Burn scar neoplasms: a literature review and statistical analysis

Burns. 2005 Jun;31(4):403-13. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2005.02.015. Epub 2005 Apr 1.


Background: Although squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common burn scar neoplasm, other neoplasms have also been reported.

Objective: To compile the burn scar neoplasm cases in the literature and to analyze their frequency and demographic characteristics.

Materials and methods: Cases were obtained through literature searches.

Results: There were 412 cases gleaned from 146 articles between 1923 and 2004. Seventy-one percent (293) of the tumors were squamous cell carcinoma, 12% (48) were basal cell carcinoma (BCC), 6% (23) were melanoma, 5% (21) were sarcoma, 4% (16) were other neoplasms, 1% (6) were squamo-basal cell carcinoma, and 1% (5) squamous cell-melanoma. The mean age at tumor diagnosis was 50 years, the mean age at the time of burn injury was 20 years, the mean latency interval was 31 years. Only 5% of the reported cases were excised and grafted at the time of injury (p<0.001). BCC occurred at a significantly later age compared to SCC and sarcoma groups (p<0.02) and had a shorter latency period compared to SCC and sarcoma groups (p<0.004) and melanoma (p<0.008). Local recurrence was present in 16% of the cases, while regional lymph node involvement was seen in 22% of the cases and distant metastases was present in 14% of the patients. The mortality rate was 21%.

Conclusions: Although the main burn scar neoplasm was SCC, other neoplasms contributed to the morbidity and mortality of burn patients. Excision and grafting of deep burns, and close follow-up of non-healing ulcerated burn scars is essential for the prevention and early detection of burn scar neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Burns / complications*
  • Burns / mortality
  • Burns / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Cicatrix / complications*
  • Cicatrix / mortality
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms, Post-Traumatic / mortality
  • Sarcoma / epidemiology
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality