Determinants and Timeline of Perioperative Anxiety in Mohs Surgery

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Patients undergoing Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) exhibit anxiety relating to cancer cure or the expected cosmetic outcome.

OBJECTIVE

To obtain quantitative measurements of perioperative cancer and cosmetic anxiety levels in first-time MMS patients. Parameters influencing anxiety and its natural course were assessed.

METHODS

Prospective, single-blinded, questionnaire study of 173 patients undergoing MMS of the face. Anxiety levels were assessed using a visual analog scale preoperatively and postoperatively over 6 months.

RESULTS

Mohs patients demonstrate a trend to greater or equal anxiety about cancer over cosmesis at all measured time points, but differences only reached statistical significance beginning 1 week postoperatively. Clinically relevant lowering of cancer anxiety levels is delayed until 3 months postoperatively. Cosmetic anxiety reaches a clinically relevant improvement by 1 week. The intuitive predictors of cosmetic anxiety, namely female gender and younger age, were quantitatively reinforced in this study. The predictor of cancer anxiety was the use of preoperative lorazepam.

CONCLUSION

To maximize patient care, Mohs surgeons must be aware of covert patient anxieties and the parameters, which influence these anxieties. Identifying and anticipating the course of cancer- and cosmetic-related anxieties will reduce patient fears, improving their satisfaction with the MMS experience.

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