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Radiotherapy skin markings

Radiotherapy skin markings help make sure external radiotherapy treatment is delivered in exactly the right place. There are different ways your skin can be marked.

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.

Radiotherapy tattoo marks
Radiotherapy skin marks

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. It can help to wear older clothes next to your skin during your treatment.

Last reviewed: 
15 Feb 2016
  • External Beam Therapy
    Peter Hoskin
    OUP Oxford, 30 Aug 2012 

  • De Vita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (9th edition)
    De Vita, V.T., Lawrence, T.S. and Rosenberg S.A.
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2011

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