Treating skin cancer with Mohs surgery

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More than 5 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a form of skin cancer in 2023 — either basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma — according to the American Cancer Society. More than 97,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma.

Watch this "Mayo Clinic Minute" video to hear Naiara Sbroggio Barbosa, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, explain how Mohs surgery can be used to treat basal cell carcinomasquamous cell carcinoma and some types of melanoma:

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and with different forms and situations, there are also different treatments.

"Mohs surgery is a technique used to treat skin cancers, especially in areas of the skin that are considered high-risk or cosmetically sensitive, like the face, scalp, ears and neck," says Dr. Sbroggio Barbosa.

With Mohs surgery, physicians remove skin surrounding a tumor without removing large amounts of healthy tissue. Immediately after removal, lab technicians process the specimens and place them onto slides for the physician to evaluate under a microscope.

"If we see any tumor going deeper or wider, we have the ability to go back and take more," says Dr. Sbroggio Barbosa. "We do that until there's no cancer."

The procedure happens under local anesthesia and can take a few hours, as more samples around the affected area may need to be collected and checked.

"In this way, we can spare as much as possible healthy skin, but we also guarantee the highest cure rate so there's less chance of that tumor ever coming back," says Dr. Sbroggio Barbosa.

Learn more

Learn more about Mohs surgery and skin cancer.

Find a skin cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

Join the Skin Health Support Group on Mayo Clinic Connect.

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