Mohs micrographic surgery (Mohs)

Mohs allows the surgeon to remove one layer of skin at a time, starting with the most visible part of the skin cancer. Each layer that is removed is placed under a microscope so that the surgeon can look for cancer cells. This process continues until the surgeon no longer finds cancer cells. Mohs often can be performed in a dermatologist's office while the patient remains awake. The cure rate for skin cancer treated with Mohs surgery is high.


Mohs may not be appropriate for every patient. If a tumor is large, it may be treated with a surgical procedure called "excision." This involves surgically removing DFSP and a portion of normal-looking skin. This procedure may be performed in a dermatologist's office. Sometimes it needs to be performed in an operating room.

Lymph node dissection

If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, the lymph nodes may be surgically removed.


Options may include the topical treatment 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), applied directly to the skin cancer destroying the damaged skin cells. When the skin heals, new healthy skin appears. If the cancer spreads beyond the skin, chemotherapy that is swallowed, injected or infused (given with an IV) may help kill the cancer cells.


Freezes skin for actinic keratosis removal. The treated skin often blisters and peels off within a few days to a few weeks. When the skin heals, you may see a small white mark.

Curettage and dissection

Your physician removes a visible AK with an instrument called a curette. After curettage, your dermatologist may use electrosurgery to remove more damaged tissue. Electrosurgery numbs and cauterizes (burns) the skin, using an electric current to remove additional growth. When it heals, new healthier skin will appear. Immunotherapy: A cream called imiquimod is applied to the skin cancer, and uses the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer.

Photodynamic therapy

This treatment consists of two phases. First, a chemical is applied to the skin cancer, sitting there for several hours. During the second phase, the skin cancer is exposed to a special light that destroys the cancer cells. Laser Treatment with photodynamic blue light for pre-cancerous lesions on face or scalp—has a 90–95 percent cure rate for pre-cancerous lesions.

Radiation therapy

This treatment is usually only an option when a patient cannot have surgery or the skin cancer covers a large area. If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, radiation may be part of the treatment plan. It can help kill cancer cells and ease discomfort.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.