Lewes physician one of first in country to earn distinction

Kathryn O’Reilly earns board certification in micrographic dermatology surgery
January 18, 2022

Story Location:
750 Kings Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Physician Kathryn O’Reilly is one of the first doctors in the country to earn board certification in micrographic dermatology surgery, a minimally invasive and highly successful procedure for people with certain types of cancer.

While the technique, called Mohs surgery after Dr. Frederic Mohs, the physician who developed the procedure, has been used for decades, this was the first time it was offered as a board certification.

To be eligible to sit for the exam, physicians must be board certified in dermatology and must conduct Mohs surgery on a daily basis.

“It was challenging but definitely worthwhile,” O’Reilly said of the exam.

Skin cancer is so prevalent in the beach area, O’Reilly said, and the surgery offers patients a more convenient, less costly treatment of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. 

The procedure is performed in the office, so a hospital visit and general anesthesia are not required. With the patient under local anesthesia, the physician removes a thin layer of cancerous skin. 

The specimen is then color-coded and examined microscopically to detect any residual cancer. The process continues until the cancer has been eradicated, preserving as much healthy skin as possible.

“The success rate is 98 to 99 percent,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a much higher rate than standard dissection.”

Cancers on the head, neck, hands and feet are eligible for Mohs surgery, as well as larger cancers on the body, arms and legs, or aggressive cancers. Mohs surgery is not used to treat melanoma, she said. 

O’Reilly has been performing the procedure since she joined Cape Henlopen Dermatology in Lewes in 2012. 

“Our practice has extensive experience in this technique, in reading pathology and surgery,” O’Reilly said, noting she is accepting new Mohs surgery patients referred by a family physician or local dermatologist.

O’Reilly is a fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the American Academy of Dermatology. 

After completing her undergraduate degree in French and biochemistry at the University of Delaware, O’Reilly earned her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College and her PhD in cell biology from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. 

O'Reilly completed a one-year internship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center Center and a three-year residency at the New York University Department of Dermatology.

Cape Henlopen Dermatology is located at 750 Kings Highway, Suite 110 in Lewes. To learn more, go to or call 302-644-6400.

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