Radiotherapy skin markings | Cancer Research UK
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Radiotherapy skin markings

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

Find out about markings on your skin during radiotherapy. There is information about


Tattoo marks

During your radiotherapy planning session, the radiographer makes between 1 to 5 permanent pin point tattoo marks on your skin. The radiographer uses the tattoos to line up the radiotherapy machine for each treatment. This makes sure that you have exactly the same area treated each time.


Ink markings

Your radiographers may also draw marks around the tattoos with permanent ink pen. This highlights the tattoos and makes them look like small crosses. Don't try to wash them off.

The pen marks will start to rub off in time. They can rub off on your clothes or when you wash. If that happens, tell your radiographer. Don't try to redraw them yourself. 

The radiotherapy unit staff will explain to you how to look after the markings. Our section about caring for your skin during radiotherapy has information about this. It can help to wear older clothes next to your skin during your treatment.

Photograph showing skin marking for radiotherapy


More information about external radiotherapy

Read detailed information about

Tests and scans

Radiotherapy skin markings

Radiotherapy moulds

Side effects of radiotherapy

Types of external radiotherapy

Having radiotherapy treatment

For general information and support contact the Cancer research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040 (Open 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday). 

You can share experiences on our online forum – Cancer Chat.

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Updated: 15 February 2016