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How Skin Cancer is Found and Removed — At the Same Appointment


Mole RemovalImagine walking into a doctor’s office in the morning with skin cancer. During the next few hours you undergo a procedure that removes and examines every bit of the cancer, all the while testing to make sure you are completely cancer-free. Then you drive home that afternoon.

It happens every day. The procedure is called Mohs surgery, named for the surgeon who developed it in the 1930s.

Mohs surgery removes the skin cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible, which is critical with cancers near the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet and genitals.

The Mohs cure rate is spectacular for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, which are the most common skin cancers: 99 percent for basal cell, 97 percent for squamous cell.

“The Mohs procedure ensures that the cancer is taken out with a high certainty of complete removal,” says dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Thomas Knackstedt, MD.

The procedure is the only method that evaluates 100 percent of the margins and is only performed by trained dermatologists, Dr. Knackstedt says.

The margin is the border of the tissue that is removed in cancer surgery, an important indicator of whether the cancer has been entirely removed.

What happens during Mohs surgery