Mohs versus surgical excision in nonmelanoma skin cancers: Does location matter̈

Clifford Pereira, Erwin A. Kruger, Gregory Sayer, Jenny Kim, Jenny Hu, Timothy A. Miller, George H. Rudkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Every year, nearly 1.2 million people are affected by nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) in the United States. Most published data focus on comparing the efficacy of Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) versus traditional surgical excision (TSE) for NMSCs in H-zone lesions of the face. There is paucity of data regarding the 2 treatments in other areas such as the non-H-zone areas of the face, the trunk, and extremities. Our study focused on the efficacy of the 2 treatments in areas of the body where the skin was not of premium. METHOD: A retrospective chart review was performed of patients with NMSCs treated with TSE at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital between 2000 and 2008. Patients with at least a 3-year follow-up were selected for the study. Institutional review board approval was obtained before commencement of the study. Age, sex, and race-matched patients were selected in the MMS group. Data collected included demographic data, tumor characteristics, surgical treatment, reconstructions, recurrence rates, complications, and follow-up course. Data were analyzed using SigmaStat 3.5. RESULTS: A total of 588 patients were treated for NMSCs at our institute between 2000 and 2008, of which 289 patients had non-H-zone, extremity, and trunk lesions. The follow-up period for these patients was at least 3 years. Average age of this group was 67.1 (11.4) with 89.9% being males. Age, sex, and race-matched group of 200 patients treated with MMS for NMSCs were randomly chosen from the same time range. Average size of lesions was 17.4 (16.9) mm in the TSE group and 1.1 (0.4) mm in the MMS group (P < 0.05). Primary reconstruction was performed in non-premium areas (ie, non-H-zone areas of the face, the trunk, and extremities) in 98.7% patients in the TSE group and 61.5% patients in the MMS group (P < 0.05). Secondary reconstructive rate was 1.3% in TSE compared to 37.5% in MMS. Overall recurrence rate was 4.8% (compared to 3% with MMS). Of the 29 patients who had recurrences within the TSE group, 27 were H-zone lesions and 2 were non-H-zone lesions. DISCUSSION: One of the primary goals of NMSC management is to treat the lesion with adequate oncologic margins, while preserving maximal function and cosmesis. Our data look at the non-premium areas to quantify the clinical efficacy of TSE versus MMS. The size of lesions treated by TSE was significantly larger than those treated by MMS in all areas of the body. The primary closure rates were significantly higher and secondary procedure rates significantly lower in the TSE group compared to the MMS group, in non-premium areas. Our data suggest that patients with NMSCs may be more effectively treated with TSE than MMS in non-premium areas of the body. Additional studies are ongoing, including economic modeling and cost analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-434
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Clinical outcomes
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Mohs micrographic surgery
  • Nonmelanoma skin cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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