Do Doctors Use MOHS Surgery for Moles That Are Suspicious or is It Just for Cancerous Skin?

my son had MOHS surgery on a mole. i was curious if this can be done if it is just suspicious or does it have to be cancerous to do this procedure?

Doctor Answers 3

Mohs is for skin cancers only

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Mohs is used for removing skin cancers, primarily aggressive skin cancers, like basal cells, recurring squamous cells, and some melanoma. It is used in areas that don't have a lot of skin to give, i.e., the face, nose, ears, genital area, hands, etc. Because on the body (like the trunk) you can just take a larger portion of skin out and suture it closed. Mohs is used in areas where we need to retain as much skin as possible and make sure the margins of the removed skin is clear. I would believe that your son did not have a mole (a nevus), but he had a cancer which looked like a mole to you. However, I would hope a biopsy was done, read by a dermapathologist who confirmed the cancerous tissue, and then the Mohs procedure was performed. Otherwise, something seems off.

Mohs for moles

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Since Mohs surgery is intended for clearing biopsy proven skin cancers, it would not be a good treatment option for a lesion that has not been thoroughly evaluated by a dermatopathologist.  Mohs surgery uses what is called "en-face" margin exam which allows the Mohs surgeon to evaluate a lesion from the bottom up and outside in.  Moles need to be examined by traditional "breadloaf" sectioning which allows the pathologist see the entire lesion from top to bottom.

Stacey Tull, MD
Chesterfield Dermatologic Surgeon

Mohs is for skin cancer

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Mohs micrographic surgery is for clearance of skin cancers (i.e basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, sometimes melanoma in situ, and other rare skin cancers).  Using it for a mole is not an appropriate use of the procedure, and insurance would not cover it.

Brent Spencer, MD
Frisco Dermatologic Surgeon

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.