Skin Cancer Question

Good morning -

I have a question about skin cancer and a treatment for it. It's called Mohs micrographic surgery and it seems to treat skin cancer before it infects lymph nodes. My question is based on this diagram that shows how the treatment is performed. It appears that Mohs removes the infected cells/growth until they can no longer see any cells in a microscope. Isn't this how all skin cancer patients are treated? For example, my mother had some pre-cancerous moles removed and the Dermatologist just cut the tissue out. Are these procedures the same, aside from Mohs focusing on more detailed extraction, compared to my Mom who just had a bunch of tissue removed (she has a similar scar like this example)?

If anyone has any insight with skin cancer and this type of treatment, I would love to learn more about it. It seems really interesting and I would like to know if it’s an option instead of having a dent in your body like my Mom has.



  • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Hi Aaron - I have skin cancer but stage IV melanoma so I have had to have a lot more treatment than just surgery. If you're interested in MOHs surgery probably the best thing to do would be to discuss the options with a doctor. Typically with skin cancer I think the first step is to remove the primary (the cancerous spot on your skin) by surgery, and often besides monitoring that is all that is necessary. I have had my primary melanoma spot and several severely atypical moles removed from my back, arm, and leg and I do not mind the scars left by normal surgery methods. If they don't get clear margins they will go back and do surgery again another day to take a wider margin. I think MOHs is alternative if the spot is in a place (like your hand) where it would be hard to remove a lot of extra tissue or your face where it may be a cosmetic concern. MOHs allows them to be more precise about just removing what is necessary and from what I've read they can do it all in the same day - remove some have a pathologist check the margins and then remove more only as necessary until they get clear margins. I also read MOHs is more expensive which is perhaps why doctors may only recommend it for certain circumstances. As I said though talk to a doctor - I am no expert! Happy to share my experiences though if it helps :)
  • Aaron, I have had 8 moles removed. One was diagnosed as melanoma. After that was diagnosed the next step was to ensure clean margins and to remove the sentinel lymph node. The sentinel lymph nodes is the lymph node that the mole drained to first. The margins came back clean the sentinel lymph node positive. My surgery oncologist then went and removed the rest of lymph nodes in that area and they were examined and came back clean. During all my surgeries this Mohs micrographic surgery was not discussed. Though my surgeon always takes margins to help ensure another surgery is not needed. The scars the moles that were removed from last year are almost un noticeable at this point. The rest are still to new. And the scar from the lymph node surgery is slowly disappearing. It takes time for the larger inscisions to heal.
  • Hi I just had Mohs surgery on 10-30-14. I had Squamous cell cancer on the top of my head. Mohs was the option of treatment I was given. The dermatologist said that due to the location and the fact that is was deeper than the first layer of skin, I needed this type of surgery. It did not hurt. I had about 8 stitches & walked out the same day knowing that the cancer was all removed. Please feel free to ask me any questions at all. Good luck!