What are the risks and benefits of Mohs micrographic surgery for treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC)?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

The main advantage of this procedure over simple excision is the ability to histologically examine nearly 100% of the surgical margins (as compared with < 1% of the margin visualized via standard histologic sectioning) and to carefully map residual foci of invasive carcinoma, making incomplete excision much less likely than with standard pathologic processing.

In addition, the excised specimens are managed in a way that maintains orientation relative to the operative site. Consequently, Mohs surgery offers tissue sparing, which facilitates small, minimally disfiguring reconstructions of the resulting defects. Thus, it is considered ideal for removing small lesions on the face.

However, Mohs surgery is time consuming and highly dependent on technique. Moreover, it is ill suited for large, aggressive, or recurrent cSCC, in which the risk of recurrence or regional metastasis is high. In those cases, en bloc surgical excision is the standard method of treatment.


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