Recent Blog Articles

What is Mohs surgery?

January 13, 2023

An effective treatment for basal cell cancers.

Reviewed by Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

cropped photo of the gloved hands of a surgeon using a scalpel to make an incision on the back of a person's hand, preparing to remove a basal cell cancer

Mohs micrographic surgery is often used to remove basal cell cancers. During Mohs surgery the tumor is shaved away in thin layers, one layer at a time. Each layer is checked immediately under a microscope.

This allows the surgeon to preserve as much healthy skin as possible while removing all of the cancer and a thin margin of healthy skin. This surgery is a highly effective treatment for basal cell cancer and often has very good cosmetic results.

Basal cell cancers form in the epidermis, the protective, outermost layer of our skin. The cancerous cells invade surrounding tissues, usually forming a painless pearly bump.

illustration showing how a basal cell carcinoma looks under the skin

 Illustration by Michael Linkinhoker

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