(HealthDay News) – For Medicare beneficiaries, the rate of use of Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS) to treat nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) doubled from 2001 through 2006, according to research published in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Kate V. Viola, MD, MHS, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY, and associates conducted a retrospective analysis of Medicare beneficiaries (a 5% sample) receiving surgical intervention for treatment of NMSC in the United States from 2001 through 2006. The rates of MMS use were identified, and characteristics associated with treatment type were investigated.

During the study period, the researchers found that 26,931 operations were performed, of which 36.4% were MMS. During this time, the rate of MMS doubled, from 0.75 to 1.5 per 100 Medicare beneficiaries, while the rate of surgical excision increased slightly from 1.8 to 2.1 per 100 Medicare beneficiaries. MMS was used to treat 14.7% of total body lesions and 46.9% of facial lesions. Nationally, the highest proportion of Medicare recipients treated with MMS was in Georgia (45.1%), while the lowest rate was Louisiana (11%). Significant associations were seen between MMS use and age, race, lesion location, and geographic region.

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“Surgical treatment of NMSC increased substantially from 2001 through 2006, primarily because of a doubling in the rate of MMS procedures,” the authors write. “Significant differences in surgical rates, depending on patient age, race, lesion location, and geographic region, of treatment were found.”

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