Mohs Micrographic Surgery provides the highest possible cure rate of all skin cancer treatments. The cure rate for basal cell carcinomas that have not been previously treated exceeds 99% and the cure rate for previously untreated squamous cell carcinomas is 97%. The cure rates for recurrent basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are 97% and 90%, respectively.
The high cure rate provided by Mohs surgery is due to the unique and highly specialized tissue processing which occurs after the skin cancer has been removed from the patient. With Mohs surgery, horizontal sections are cut from the specimen. This is analogous to using a cheese slicer to remove a thin layer from the edges and base of the specimen with a single cut. This allows 100% of the peripheral and deep margins to be assessed so that any areas where skin cancer cells extend beyond the wound edges will be detected.
In contrast, other non-Mohs types of tissue processing used in skin cancer treatment involve vertical sectioning, in which the specimen is cut like a loaf of bread and the edges of the slices “sampled.” With this technique, less than 1% of the true surgical margins are assessed, which may result in a failure to detect areas of cancer that have extended past the surgical margins.
Thus, it is the way in which the tissue is processed that makes the Mohs procedure unique and provides the highest possible cure rate in treating skin cancer.