How Long Can I Wait to Have MOHs Surgery Done?

I was told about 2 weeks ago that I need MOHs surgery on the tip of my nose. How long can I wait to have it done? I have a family wedding in June and my sautéed graduates.

Doctor Answers 7

Waiting for Mohs Surgery

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Most importantly it depends on the type of skin cancer being treated. Basal cell carcinomas tend to be slow growing. Waiting one month or two would be acceptable and would likely not change the size of the resultant defect significantly or the chance to cure the cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma or some other type of malignancy should likely be treated more quickly as these may grow quicker or some have a chance to metastasize. Delay of surgery for those types of cancer should not be considered. Best option is to discuss the situation with the Mohs surgeon, preferably a member of the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS). They can give you a better idea about whether or not it would be acceptable to delay your surgery. Good luck.

Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

How long to delay cancer surgery?

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Ideally, cancers are treated as quickly as possible and your health comes first.  If you are immune suppressed (ie you have another type of cancer or you are taking immune suppresive meds such as prednisone, for example) you should not delay your treatment as tumors in immune suppressed patients can spread much more easily.  Generally speaking, waiting 4-8 weeks is okay for basal cell carcinomas due to their slow growth and less aggressive nature.  However, if you have a squamous cell carcinoma or a melanoma I would not wait as these can be faster growing and can spread to other parts of your body more readily.  I hope all goes well with your surgery. 

Can Mohs Surgery Be Delayed?

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As with any cancer, prompt and early treatment often yields the best results. The Mohs surgery technique is used to treat a number of different types of skin cancer, each with their own characteristics. Basal cell carcinoma, for example, tends to be a slow growing cancer and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Despite the fact that this tumor tends to remain localized, studies have shown that delaying treatment for 6 months or longer can lead to a significant increase in the size of the tumor. This means more surgery and a chance for more scarring when the surgery is performed. This could be a consideration given your cancer is on the nose tip. Squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma skin cancers can spread, and should therefore be treated more quickly.  I have had a number of patients deay and wait for  surgery because of personal commitments. At the same time, if your surgery is straightforward, there is a good chance you will be completely healed by June. The best recommendation I can give is to speak to your Mohs surgeon - he or she can advise you on the best course of action.

Adam J. Mamelak, MD
Austin Dermatologic Surgeon

Delaying Mohs surgery? Talk to your doctor!

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Most importantly, you need to realize that this is your health and your safety. I've had patients delay a Mohs surgery (for a BCC) for about 6 months. In that timeframe, I know one particular site grew and developed and so the surgery was more in-depth and the repair was much, much larger. You need to consult the physician who informed you about the needed Mohs and let him/her know what you have coming up. Depending on the size of the current site and the type of cancer, you may be fine to wait, or you should consider getting it done asap and letting it heal before your big events. Talk to your doctor!

How Long Can I Wait to Have MOHs Surgery Done?

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For BCC, I always believe it is reasonable to wait 2 months during which time it will not likely grow to any significant degree

Dr. Malouf

Peter J. Malouf, DO
Fort Worth Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

It depends on the type of cancer that you have

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It is usually acceptable to wait 2-3 months for Mohs surgery for routine nodular basal cell carcinomas.  Now if you had a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma, I would answer this question differently and recommend treatment quicker.  The longer that you wait, the more that you risk that you will have a larger defect, but for the most part, basal cell carcinomas grow rather slowly.

If you can get your surgery done in the next few weeks, you should be fairly well healed up in time for the family wedding in June.  I don't know about the "sautéed graduates" or when that happens though :) .  

Brent Spencer, MD
Frisco Dermatologic Surgeon

Mohs on nose

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It depends on the type of skin cancer.  If a basal cell cancer you can typically wait a few months without any issues.  Other cancer types may be more rapidly growling and waiting may not be advisable


Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 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.