Why is mohs surgery the gold standard for treating skin cancers?

I disagree. It is appropriate for squamous and basal cell carcinomas. But i would never advise a patient with melanoma to undergo moh's surgery. Melanoma patients should be referred to a surgical oncologist trained in treatment melanoma.
Margins control. Mohs micrographic surgery is the gold standard for the treatment of squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma. This is because of how the tissue is processed so that nearly 100% of the margin is sampled. The process continues until clear margins are obtained during the procedure and only then is they wound repaired. It offers the smallest scar with the highest "cure rate.".
Nothing is better. The cure rate of mohs surgery just cannot be beat, so it has become the gold standard treatment for many skin cancers. It is time consuming and expensive, which makes it important to utilize it efficiently. There are recent guidelines that help clarify when mohs surgery might be appropriate: http://www.Aad.Org/education-and-quality-care/appropriate-use-criteria/mohs-surgery-auc.
In situ/lm. There is pretty good data on using mohs for melanoma in situ and lentigo maligna. We recently reviewed this: the operative management of melanoma: where does mohs surgery fit in? Authors chang kh, dufresne r jr, cruz a, rogers gs. Journal dermatol surg. 2011 aug;37(8):1069-79.
Highest cure rate! Mohs micrographic surgery is the most effective and advanced treatment for skin cancer today. It offers skin sparing surgery with the highest potential for cure – even if the skin cancer has been previously treated by another method. Visit (http://www.Skincancermohssurgery.Org/mohs-surgery) to learn more.
It is not. Mohs is controversial for melanomas and probably should not be done except for some early melanomas on the face (and then only by experts who have explained potential risks). It may be the gold standard for basal cell carcinomas in sensitive areas, but may be overkill for small basal cell cancers on the trunk or extremeties.
High cure rate. Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rate of 99%. It is the only procedure by which the entire tissue specimen can be viewed under a microscope at the time of surgery to ensure complete removal of the entire cancer while also minimizing the amount of healthy tissue lost thus providing the best cosmetic outcome.
Poorly differentiated = Bad. When good pathologists examine squamous cell carcinomas they will comment on how well differentiated the tumor is. Differentiation is what makes all the unique cells in our body. When cells become cancerous, they often lose this differentiation, and for most cancers, the less differentiated they are, the worse they are. So a poorly differentiated tumor is potentially more aggressive than a well differentiated one.

Related Questions

Mohs surgery is the best way to treat skin cancers. What qualifies a doctor to be a mohs surgeon?

ACMS members. It is important that you verify that your mohs surgeon is recognized as a fellowship-trained surgeon. Only members of the american college of mohs surgery (acms) are fellowship trained to perform mohs surgery. All members and fellows of the acms are listed on their website directory. The link to the acms website: http://www.Mohscollege.Org/. Read more...
ACMS Fellowship. The acms fellowship (www.Skincancermohssurgery.Org) established by dr. F. Mohs is acknowledged as the benchmark in mohs surgery training. Through an extensive application and interview process, only the most qualified physicians are selected by acms to participate in a fellowship program. Participants must undergo a rigorous 1-2 yr training program after completing a residency in dermatology. Read more...
For Some. It is acceptable for squamous and basal cell carcinomas. I would advise against having moh's surgery for melanoma. Read more...

Had a skin cancer biopsy. Told it was basal, had Mohs surgery, but doctor found no cancer! Lab was wrong, or failed to note it was all removed, no?

BCC. This is a common occurrence. But better to side on removal to be safe. Under excised BCCs grow like an iceberg. So instead of blaming be happy your docs took the time just to be sure... Read more...
Not uncommon. When a suspicious mole is removed, many times it removes all the cancer. On pathology, they may not see clear or negative margins, so they report that the edges are not clear. That means it needs to be re-excised to be sure the margins are clear. Many time on re-excision, there is no further evidence of cancer. Now you know the margins of excision are clear and therefore less likely for recurrence. Read more...