Marjolin's ulcer: the importance of surgical management of chronic cutaneous ulcers.

Research paper by Maurice M Asuquo, Gabriel G Ugare, Godwin G Ebughe, Paul P Jibril

Indexed on: 06 Dec '07Published on: 06 Dec '07Published in: International Journal of Dermatology


Chronic cutaneous ulcers are commonplace in the developing world, especially in rural areas with poor living conditions and often result from the trauma of road-traffic injuries. Chronic cutaneous ulcers may also be due to vascular insufficiency, neuropathy, nodular leprosy, pressure, diabetes, or hemoglobinopathies, or they may be tropical ulcers. If poorly managed, these lesions may undergo malignant transformation. We evaluated the clinical histories and treatment outcomes of patients seen at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, between January 2000 and December 2004, who had histologic diagnosis of Marjolin's ulcer, in an attempt to identify risk factors for this problem. The six patients were men, age 30-70 years (mean, 42 years). Trauma was the leading cause of injury leading to ulceration: road-traffic accidents (four patients, 66.7%), fall (one patient, 16.7%), and flame burn (one patient, 16.7%). Most injuries involved the limbs: lower (four patients, 66.7%) and upper (one patient, 16.7%). The histologic diagnosis in all the cases were squamous cell carcinoma and mean latency period from injury to diagnosis of malignancy was 18.5 years. All the patients had been admitted because of poor results from topical treatment. Three patients (50%) were managed with wide excision and skin grafting with the lesions healed. Ignorance as well as economic and sociocultural factors were the underlying issues. Education concerning the risks associated with chronic wounds and the need for prompt and proper surgical management are recommended.