About to start radiotherapy - covered in drawings

Hi there

I had lumpectomy for DCIS on 25 March, and next Tues I start radiotherapy. I went to the hospital today to have the measuring up thing done and I’ll have a scan done tomorrow.

I assumed that I would just end up with a couple of little marks where they’ll zap me, but my torso is covered in indelible ink. I have marks around my waist, up my sides, right up the middle of me from my waist to approx my collar bone area, all over the boob (big squares and a big cross in that area) and round my armpit. I have to keep all the lines on for the whole time - ie 25 sessions. I’m having 20 sessions on the whole boob and then 5 on the bit where the lump was.

The pen is going to show in any top I wear. I’m not particularly bothered (makes me laugh actually!) but I just wondered do you get drawn all over for radiotherapy in the UK because I’ve not read that anywhere? (I’m currently living overseas).


Hey Spudgirl

Usually in the UK you are given some little permanant tattoo dots for lining up the rads machine.

I chose not to have them tho, so yeh, I had some lovely indelible marks around my chest which were covered by the fake skin stuff to stop them rubbing off & then for the boosters to my neck nodes I had a lovely diamond shape for everyone to see!

Like you it never bothered me at all, although I’ve never missed having a big deep bubbly bath so much in all my life! LOL


Hayz - Couldn’t agree more about the bubbly bath. They are one of my greatest pleasures in life. Just finished rads today so am counting down days so that I can have one. Had a bath the other day, quite shallow and did not soak my boobs but still lost 2 of the booster marker tapes you are talking about and had to be redone.
Good luck Spudgirl - you sound like a walking piece of art!
Marli x

Glad I’m not the only one then!

I was also told I can sit in a little bath up to just below my waist, as long as I don’t wash off the marks round my waist, but the doc said I can’t even shower my top half, I have to just wash at the sink by patting with a flannel and some mild soap solution they gave me. I think I’m going to smell lovely soon :slight_smile:

Also, I thought this stuff was indelible, but this morning when I woke up, the line up the middle of me was hardly there, but when I looked in bed it was all down the sheet (I didn’t know I ever slept on my front!). So this morning when I went for the scan they drew the lines back on again. I have some of that skin tape over two crosses at each side of my boob, but I’m thinking that by the time I go back next Tues most of the other drawing will have gone, and will have transferred to the bed.

Hayz and Marli, does that happen to you, or are all your lines taped up? Can I use a normal felt tip perhaps if they get really faded over the weekend??

I had 8 bits of the skin stuff in total for the first 4 weeks (I had 3 areas zapped each day)then only 4 wee stickies for my booster week.

I was told that it was fine if any of the other marks came off, but obviously not to scrub at them cause they were handy to have. They drew new marks on me every day…wee dot here & a wee line there! lol…I was multicoloured by the time I was finished!

I wore a vest top in bed the whole time & stuck to a dark bra, as the pen does come off easily onto your clothes & it’s most definately permanent on fabric!

I was also told to be careful in the shower, but I washed as normal (but with simple shower gel) & the tape lasted really well…infact it took a good few layers of skin with it when it came off!


Spudgirl - I had the tiny tattoos for my first 15 sessions although the radiotherapists did draw on me everyday to ensure they could see where they were going. Able to shower with simple soap all through. for booster sessions the markers were drawn on and covered with tape. as I said 2 fell off and they redid them using a photo that had been taken at planning together with the measurement they make. Don’t like the idea of not showering at all. I would advice wearing a vest and not a bra if at all possible as then there is nodanger of rubbing causing sore spots. So far my skin is bearing up well although it is red and sore but just keep slapping on a thick layer of aqueous cream and covering with a clean white hankie to protect clothes. Hope all goes well. Marli x


I also had three permanent tiny tattoos before my rads. Then every session they drew extra lines on me. I used simple bath soak every day although I was advised to not have the bath water too hot. It was not a problem that the drawn lines came off regularly and were redone.

I used E45 cream all the way through rads and was lucky enough not to have any more problems than if I had been out in the sun a bit too long. In fact the area where I had my rads still appears slightly suntanned nearly a year on.

Good Luck


Thanks for the hints and tips !! Feel I’ve missed out with not having little tattoos though ;-))

Wish I’d thought about the pen getting on my clothes before the first drawings were done, I wore a lovely new pink spotty bra for the measuring up appt last week and its covered in purple ink now!

I managed to keep my drawings on more or less over the weekend, apart from the one down my middle but like you say, when I went for the first zapping yesterday they weren’t bothered as I still had the main two crosses and just drew the rest back on again.

I’ve decided there is no way I can just have a wash at the sink though, so I am just being very careful I don’t wash the boob / armpit area too much and just a light showering.

I’ve also been given some “Flamispray” to spray on 2 - 4 times a day, supposed to be good for sunburn and similar skin damage. I assume I should just use it from the start even though there is no damage yet as a preventative measure?

Thank you all!!

Hi Spud girl
I had the tiny tats with top up drawings everyday, my 5th session of 23 today!
How are you doing without smellies under your arm? I was concious of being sweaty when I am on the machine but the rad girl advised an underarm stuff called ‘crystal stick’ it is in Boots for £4.99 and lasts about a year. It isn’t perfumed but it stops you feeling like a sweaty betty.
Good Luck
Linda x

I have the tiny tattoos, stung a bit when they were done but on the scale things done over the last few months… Wish they’d warned me about the pen marks & staining my clothes, would’ve worn a dark bra.

I think I’ll pop down to Boots for the crystal stick. I had number 3 of 20 yesterday & felt very sorry for the radiographers getting too close to my armpits. Thanks for the tip. I’d heard of them but didn’t know where to get one. :slight_smile:

Hi Tresanne
Just another quick tip…
Keep your cream in the fridge it doesn’t half help!
Ive got 11 down 12 to go now and just getting a bit sore so the cream is really good.
Good luck x

Oh my goodness - I haven’t been on here for a while. I wish I had because then I would have found out about the crystal stick!

I’ve done 21 sessions now and I’ve just been having to change tops all the time when its been hot here and washing with the “cleanser” they gave me about 3 times a day which does the trick for all of about 10 minutes. I think its just water pretending to be a cleanser :wink:

I’ve now just got 4 rads to go next week which are the boost ones so I suspect using antispirant will still be a no-no for some time after those because my skin is looking pretty dark and is very sensitive. Luckily I am coming over to the UK for a bit of retail therapy this weekend so I will definitely get one of those crystal sticks from Boots.


ive been using crystal rock for years and years, even before rads. the stick lasts about a year! (ha)

glad you are near the end of your rads now. Have you been using Aqueous cream?? i used tubs and tubs of it, which did help a lot.


Hi Eva

Yay - my 5 year old daughter might stop telling people I have a stinky armpit :wink:

The doc at radiotherapy told me to use Flamispray which is for burns (I’m in Belgium at the mo, don’t know if its something you get in the UK), however I hated spraying it on me and took ages to soak in to my skin so I suspect I didn’t use enough early on.

However when I saw her last week she told me to try Flamigel, which is the same thing, but in gel form so much nicer to use. It is wonderful stuff, but just wish I had known about it before I’d done about 15 rads when the burning was already doing its damage grrr.

Have you finished your rads now?

SG xx