Outcomes of Melanoma In Situ Treated With Mohs Micrographic Surgery Compared With Wide Local Excision

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Melanoma in situ (MIS) is increasing in incidence, and expert consensus opinion recommends surgical excision for therapeutic management. Currently, wide local excision (WLE) is the standard of care. However, Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) is now used to treat a growing subset of individuals with MIS. During MMS, unlike WLE, the entire cutaneous surgical margin is evaluated intraoperatively for tumor cells.


To assess the outcomes of patients with MIS treated with MMS compared with those treated with WLE.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Retrospective review of a prospective database. The study cohort consisted of 662 patients with MIS treated with MMS or WLE per standard of care in dermatology and surgery (general surgery, otolaryngology, plastics, oculoplastics, surgical oncology) at an academic tertiary care referral center from January 1, 1978, to December 31, 2013, with follow-up through 2015.


Mohs micrographic surgery or WLE.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Recurrence, overall survival, and melanoma-specific survival.


There were 277 patients treated with MMS (mean [SD] age, 64.0 [13.1] years; 62.1% male) and 385 treated with WLE (mean [SD] age, 58.5 [15.6] years; P < .001 for age; 54.8% male). Median follow-up was 8.6 (range, 0.2-37) years. Compared with WLE, MMS was used more frequently on the face (222 [80.2%] vs 141 [36.7%]) and scalp and neck (23 [8.3%] vs 26 [6.8%]; P < .001). The median (range) year of diagnosis was 2008 (1986-2013) for the MMS group vs 2003 (1978-2013) for the WLE group (P < .001). Overall recurrence rates were 5 (1.8%) in the MMS group and 22 (5.7%) in the WLE group (P = .07). Mean (SD) time to recurrence after MMS was 3.91 (4.4) years, and after WLE, 4.45 (2.7) years (P = .73). The 5-year recurrence rate was 1.1% in the MMS group and 4.1% in the WLE group (P = .07). For WLE-treated tumors, the surgical margin taken was greater for tumors that recurred compared with tumors that did not recur (P = .003). Five-year overall survival for MMS was 92% and for WLE was 94% (P = .28). Melanoma-specific mortality for the MMS group was 2 vs 13 patients for the WLE group, with mean (SD) survival of 6.5 (4.8) and 6.1 (0.8) years, respectively (P = .77).

Conclusions and Relevance

No significant differences were found in the recurrence rate, overall survival, or melanoma-specific survival of patients with MIS treated with MMS compared with WLE.

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