Radiotherapy Tattoos

Radiotherapy Tattoos

Radiotherapy Tattoos I have just finished chemo, waiting for surgery and have begun to worry about radiotherapy tattoos! What exactly are they? and how to they do them? Pain and needles are obviously not a problem, now I’ve had enough blood tests and cannulas to last a lifetime! But I am very concerned about being permanently marked.( yes i know I will have a disfigured scarred breast, but having dots added to that really concerns me!!) Do they actually inject ink? if so what colour? and more importantly do they fade? or will I have them for ever? Perhaps I am just being pathetic, but I really have an aversion to tattoos! Do they have alternative (semi-permanent )ways of marking you? This really concerns me!

Sorry it’s all questions! I want to know, so that i don’t freak out at my planning and refuse them!


Hi Nicky

The tattoos are 3 tiny dark blue dots (one at each side and one in the centre) which are only visible because you know they are there. Not quite sure how they mark them but the procedure was completely painless. The tattoos are absolutely essential as they help to ensure that the radiotherapy is directed to the exact area where it is needed. I had mine nearly 3 years ago and I think they probably have faded slightly as I can only see them if I look really hard.

Hope this helps and good luck with your treatment.


Hello Nicky

I’ve just finished rads and can hardly see my tattoos. They are very small dark blue dots - I showed a friend who said they look like little blackheads - only they’re blue but they’re about the size of blackheads. It was painless having them done as well. Absolutely nothing to worry about.
take care
Love Anthi

Nicky - had my tattoes 17 years ago and can just see them and now regard them as battle scars for a war I nearly won - my BC came back in April in the same breast but had the lump removed and am now on Arimidex for 5 years which I hope will give me another 17 years!
Good luck and keep us posted.

No tattoos I declined to have them and they managed to give me radiotherapy without. I was like you - didn’t like the idea of them.

They used two of my moles plus drew a cross on the middle of my chest in permanent marker and put clear tape over it which kept going most of the time. about two thirds of the way through they redrew it from some kind of plan they had. It didn’t take very long to do. I have seen tattoos and they aren’t very visible but I didn’t want them at all.


hi Nicky hiya

i had mine about two months ago, again there 3 tiny dots one either side of the boob and one in the centre but my clevage covers it up, i dont think i would refuse it as they need to get the right spot every time you have rads and if it really bothers you on a night out then put a tiny blob of foundation over it, mine has faded a little already, im also very vein and this hasnt bothered me as you cant see it from a distance, unless your a bloke and he’s talking to your chest, ha ha.

They will fade in time so dont worry about this last leg of your journey.

take care


Tattoos Hi Nicky,
I only had one tattoo placed under my arm as the sticky covering kept coming off. I didn’t want any placed down my front so managed with the stickers covering the pen marks. If any came loose the nurses replaced them for me.

I felt the same Hi Nicky,

I felt exactly the same as you about tattoos and desperately didn’t want them. I said this at my planning meeting for radiotherapy but also said that I would listen to what they had to say and might be persuaded. Eventually I agreed to have them on condition that they were absolutely tiny (especially the one in the middle of my chest). I had three tattoos and they were very small. I can just see the ones under each arm but have had to search for them as they are hidden by my bra and I never look there anyway. I have no idea how they even managed to see the tattoo in the middle. It was so small that I couldn’t find it and was worried that it would have to be redone before radiotherapy but somehow they found it every day. There is absolutely no trace of it. I was so glad I’d expressed concern and only agreed to have them if they were as small as possible. I’m sure that, as a result, they were much smaller than they would have been. You might find it useful to read a discussion from earlier this year (search ‘clear plasters’ and I think it’s the second item that comes up). This tells you about alternatives although hospitals seem to differ in their approach to this. I hope the treatment goes well and make sure you apply lots of aqueous cream for two or three weeks before radiotherapy and at least the same period of time afterwards if not longer.

Best wishes
Francine x

Thanks Thanks for all your replies!

I will go and express concern that i really don’t want them and challenge them to make them as small as possible! Or ask why they can’t do red ones, I seem to have lots of red dots of my body already!


I did n’t have tattoos as I did n’t want 5 permanent marks, which is how many they said they’d need to do. I had 5 pen marks covered with clear sticky stuff, a bit like Fablon. I had 3 weeks of rads and the marks and plasters survived no problem. I was given some spare plasters in case any came adrift. I was told not to wash or rub directly over the plasters. I took baths instead of showers as it was easier to manage where the water went. I had no problems at all and it was very satisfying to pull the plasters off at the end of rads and wash away the pen marks.