The Penn State Health Approach to Mohs Surgery

Penn State Health dermatologists have advanced expertise in Mohs micrographic surgery, also referred to as micrographic dermatologic surgery. Mohs surgery provides unsurpassed cure rates for skin cancer, while preserving as much healthy, noncancerous tissue as possible.

The Mohs surgeons at Penn State Health are board-certified dermatologists who have undergone additional rigorous fellowship training and received additional board certification in Mohs surgery. They combine personalized care with multispecialty capabilities. 

In addition to aesthetic and reconstructive surgery skills, our Mohs surgeons have exceptional skin cancer diagnostic and surgical expertise. They take extra care to minimize scarring and make every attempt to restore your skin’s appearance after tumor removal. 

Catching Cancers with Skin-Sparing Precision

During Mohs procedures, surgeons remove the visible portion of the tumor, plus a small rim of normal tissue, referred to as the margin. Using an exacting, step-by-step process, our surgeons examine the tissue microscopically, looking for and mapping any persisting cancer at the margins. They then progressively test additional layers of skin, one at a time, until all of the cancerous tissue has been removed.

Your doctor may recommend Mohs surgery for:

  • Skin cancers that are:
    • On your face or other visible areas that affect your appearance
    • On fingers, joints or genitals and can affect ordinary functions
    • In places where cancer has a higher risk of recurrence 
    • Fast-growing, large or irregular tumors  
    • Recurring, after a previous treatment failed
  • Mohs surgery can be used for almost any type of skin cancer, including:

Advantages of Mohs Surgery  

The benefits of Mohs surgery at Penn State Health can include:

  • An efficient, single-visit outpatient procedure
  • Use of local anesthesia, which can lower risks associated with general anesthesia and speed recovery
  • Increased cure rates because the surgeon examines 100% of the tumor margins
  • Skin-sparing approaches and aesthetic reconstruction to preserve preoperative appearance

Why Choose a Fellowship-Trained, Board-Certified Mohs Surgeon?

If you have a high-risk skin cancer or skin cancer located in a cosmetically sensitive area, you want the best available care. 

Penn State Health Mohs surgeons have the most advanced qualifications. They have completed a fellowship approved by the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS). Established by Dr. Frederic Mohs, who developed the Mohs procedure, the ACMS fellowship is the benchmark in Mohs surgery training.

ACMS is the only organization that requires its members, after years of residency training, to complete an extensive fellowship of at least one year. This includes hands-on training in the Mohs procedure from a highly qualified instructor.

Penn State Health surgeons are also involved in training the Mohs surgeons of the future through the Penn State Health Mohs surgery fellowship program.

Mohs surgeons at Penn State Health operate on challenging tumors, such as those on the nose, fingers or eyelids. They diagnose rare tumors and complete advanced complex reconstructions, so their training and experience assure you of the best possible results. 

There are times when very large or complex skin cancers may require a team approach. To optimize your care in these situations, Mohs surgeons at Penn State Health coordinate with a multidisciplinary skin oncology team that includes surgical oncologists, head and neck surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.

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What to Expect if You Have Mohs Surgery

Penn State Health Mohs surgeons perform these procedures under local anesthesia during an outpatient visit. Your surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of surrounding tissue, attempting to preserve as much normal, healthy tissue as possible. Your surgeon will examine the tissue with a microscope to assess the margins for cancer. 

If cancer is present at a margin, your surgeon indicates this on a map. The surgeon then removes additional tissue very precisely, only where the residual cancer remains. This process is repeated step by step until no more cancer cells are found.

Surgery times vary, since cancer can grow beyond visible surface lesions. For some cancers, it can take several hours. If you have Mohs surgery, keep your schedule open and be prepared to wait during tissue-removal and testing stages.

Watch a video to learn more about Mohs surgery.

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