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Tattooless radiotherapy

In the modern era of image-guided radiotherapy, tattoo marks are still is an important step in radiotherapy planning. These marks plays a crucial role during a course of radiotherapy to achieve reproducibility of treatment set-up and accuracy of treatment delivery. 

However an accurate and reliable marking is only a gateway for desired radiation delivery.  Concerns about tattoos include:

  • Visibility
  • Being permanent in nature
  • Social-religious beliefs
  • Mobility of skin
  • A constant reminder of the diagnosis

At The London Clinic we offer a choice of whether to have the tattoos or not to patients who have been referred for radiotherapy to the breast. 

Unlike other areas which like internally, the breast tissue lies externally, so the treatment target can be viewed visually prior to leaving the room and taking an image to verify the set up.

If you are referred for breast radiotherapy, the radiographer will explain the procedure to you and offer you a choice of the number of tattoos or to go tattooless. 

About Radiotherapy Tattoos

During your radiotherapy planning session, your radiographer might make between one and three permanent pin point tattoo marks on your skin.

These are usually the size of tiny freckles and your therapy radiographers will ask your approval before using a small needle to prick the ink under your skin.

The tattoos act as reference marks, the radiographers use these marks to line you up into the same position every day.

Your radiographer might also draw marks around the tattoos with an ink pen. This highlights the tattoos in a dark room and makes them look like small crosses.

If these marks wash or rub off, there is no need to worry, as the radiographer can re-mark them if required.

Further reading

Skin markings methods and guidelines: A reality in image guidance radiotherapy era 
(South Asian Journal of Cancer)

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