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Recent Study Confirms that Mohs is Safe

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) clearly demonstrated that Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) is safe. It confirmed that Mohs has a low rate of adverse events, a very low rate of serious adverse events, and an undetectable mortality rate.  This has significant ramifications for treating skin cancer as MMS has the highest cure rates.

The study collected data from 23 centers for MMS in the US for a mean of 35 weeks. Altogether 20,821 tumors were studied during this time.  The strengths of this study included a “very large number of MMS cases, the prospective design, and the multicenter approach, which has been undertaken by only one other group.”     

Adverse events after MMS were most commonly infections, bleeding, or impaired wound healing.  However, only 149 adverse events were reported. The rate of minor postoperative complications was only 0.72% and serious adverse events were only 0.02%. Serious adverse events included short-term hospitalizations, with the mean age in patients being 72.5 years. None of these patients had temporally related stroke, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolus, other life-threatening events, or death. Bleeding complications seemed to occur only in patients receiving anticoagulants or antithrombotics. Furthermore, flaps and grafts were more likely to be associated with complications. 

The study concludes that MMS is “exceedingly safe, with even lower overall complication rates than the low rates previously reported by smaller and single-center studies.” This expands the possibilities of who can be treated by this surgery, offering greater resources in fighting skin cancer. 


Source:  JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(12):1378-1385. 

Image: Karen Blaha

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