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Mohs surgery (also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, or MMS) is sometimes used when there is a high risk the skin cancer will come back after treatment, when the extent of the skin cancer is not known, or when the goal is to save as much healthy skin as possible, such as with cancers near the eye or other critical areas such as the central part of the face, the ears, or fingers.
The Mohs procedure is done by a surgeon with special training. First, the surgeon injects a medicine to numb the area. The surgeon then removes a very thin layer of the skin (including the tumor) and checks the removed sample under a microscope. If cancer cells are seen, another layer is removed and examined. This is repeated until the skin samples are free of cancer cells.
This is a slow process, often taking several hours, but it means that more normal skin near the tumor can be saved. This can help the area look better after surgery.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Last Revised: April 16, 2021
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