Do You Have to Have a Biopsy Before Mohs Surgery?

must a biopsy be done prior to a mohs surgery or is the mohs procedure ever done for both? I do not have insurance and am thinking that doing a Mohs procedure would possibly save me money in the long run. My lesion is on my shin.

Doctor Answers 5

Do i need a biopsy before mohs surgery

Yes.  Mohs' surgery is a technique used to evaluate the margins only, it does not diagnose skin cancer.  Therefore prior to Mohs' a biopsy must ALWAYS be done, although can be done immediately prior to Mohs'.

Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Biopsy Before Mohs Surgery?

Yes, you need a biopsy. A biopsy is performed on a lesion that is suspicious for skin cancer. The biopsy confirms that the lesion is indeed a skin cancer. What if it's not a skin cancer? What if it's a precancer (i.e. actinic keratosis) or wart? Then you would be able to avoid the cost of the Mohs surgery and get the appropriate treatment. Biopsy first. If it's a skin cancer, then based on the results of the biopsy you can determine what is the best option for treatment.

Andrew Kaufman, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

A biopsy is a must before Mohs surgery

Prior to performing surgery for a skin cancer using Mohs micrographic surgery, the diagnosis should be confirmed with a biopsy, otherwise, you might undergo unnecessary surgery, with risks that are not warranted. The biopsy could be a frozen biopsy and if the results prove there to be a skin cancer, then the Mohs surgery could be done. Usually, a biopsy is done in a standard fashion and sent to a laboratory for permanent section analysis (not frozen). Then when the result returns days later, the surgery is scheduled if needed.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Yes, You Need a Biopsy

A biopsy is performed to establish a diagnosis of skin cancer.  Mohs surgery is best applied for well differentiated skin cancers (BCCA, SCCA) in sensitive anatomic areas. 

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Biopsy prior to Mohs Surgery

I would always recommend performing a biopsy prior to Mohs surgery. The biopsy is sent for "permanent section" and is much better diagnostically than frozen section.

Steven Hacker, MD
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.