World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 34, Issue 10, pp 2272–2277 | Cite as

Marjolin’s Ulcers in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Peter M. NthumbaEmail author



Cutaneous malignancies are considered rare among Africans. Trauma, its sequelae, and other chronic non-healing wounds are known to predispose to malignant degeneration. Not much is known of the demographics of Marjolin’s ulcers in sub-Saharan Africa.


Pathology records on patients suspected to have Marjolin’s ulcers submitted to the Pathology Department were extracted from a database of 75,124 specimens. A review of the English literature on Marjolin’s ulcers from Nigeria, a sub-Saharan country, was also performed.


Of 210 specimens from suspected Marjolin’s ulcers, 167 records had a histological diagnosis of malignancy, with a male to female ratio of 1:1.4, and a mean age of 48 years (range: 4–97 years). There were 163 (97.6%) squamous cell carcinomas, 3 (1.8%) sarcomas, and 1 (0.6%) malignant melanoma. Burn scars, chronic ulcers, osteomyelitis, and “other” ulcers constituted 82 (49%), 70 (42%), 9 (5.4%), and 6 (3.6%), respectively. Subjects in six sub-Saharan Marjolin’s ulcer studies had a mean age between 36 and 42 years, with a mean latent period 16 years.


Marjolin’s ulcers in sub-Saharan African have a shorter latent period, and they occur in younger patients. Provision of early stable wound cover is essential for prevention of malignant degeneration of scars, while early appropriate intervention is crucial in the treatment of chronic ulcers.


Basal Cell Carcinoma Chronic Ulcer Malignant Degeneration Road Traffic Injury Cutaneous Malignancy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author is grateful to the AIC Kijabe Hospital Pathology Department staff for assistance in retrieving patient records.

Conflict of interest

The author has declared no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SurgeryAIC Kijabe HospitalKijabeKenya

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