Radiation - with or without tattoo

ARichies Member Posts: 33
Hi all. I have my first rads appointment with my Radiation Oncologist on 1st of July for my treatment plan. Thereafter ill be starting Tamoxifen.

 From doing research I found that there's different types of radiation machines ( linear accelerators). There are ones that will need permanent tattoos done. And there's other types of machines that have like a surface guided radiation therapy that doesn't require permanent tattoo markers.

Are there any difference in these machines in risks of heart / lung injuries? Also do all rads require Deep Inspiration Breath Hold to prevent heart injuries? 

Perhaps I'm over thinking it. I'm just worried about long term side effects. 😕 
Anyone care to share their experience? Thanks so much. xx 


  • Christabel03
    Christabel03 Member Posts: 43
    Hi @ARichies

    I'm quite new to radiotherapy. I am at number 8 treatment of 33 to be done over the next six weeks. I don't have tattoos, I have some stickers that I am not allowed to peel off or wash off and I have some marker pen texta type lines on the stickers as well. I was told I would have this so they didn't have to tattoo me. I'm not really sure on the technical side of the machine that is being used but I do know that I have to hold my breath at least three or four times through my treatment. I found that gets easier once you get started as well.  If I'm honest I haven't really thought about any long term side effects, I just want to get it over and done with! So far all I have noticed is that I am slightly more fatigued than normal but my skin is holding up well so they tell me. 
    I hope treatment goes along ok for you try not to over think, although I know I am guilty of it too, we are so good at doing that! xx 

  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    Hi @Christabel03. Thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like different centers have different ways of doing it. 
    Good to hear that your skin is holding up well. Many have shared that Strata XRT and moogoo cream is really good at preventing burns or radiation dermatitis. 
    Agree, I too just want it over and done with. Best of luck in your treatment! x
  • Tinks
    Tinks AdelaideMember Posts: 232
    Hi @ARichies I had stickers by request 2 years ago they were just introducing them at the time, no probs, went fine and no tattoos. Breath holding is used to help unwanted radiation from hitting the heart and lungs and surrounding tissues as much as possible. I did not need it as I needed treatment on the Right side. Love Tinks
  • Jwrenn
    Jwrenn Mornington PeninsulaMember Posts: 137
    edited June 2022
    Hi @ARichies I had left side radiation 2 years ago and no tattoo, just texta marks and clear round stickers to keep them there as long as possible. I’m not sure why but my thought at the time was Covid had just started and it was one less thing for them to worry about. As you remove bra and top clothing too, they weren’t using any changing rooms and I had to do that in the radiation room which seemed odd at the time, but I presume Covid related as well.
     I only had 16 doses and did the deep breath in and hold for 20 or so seconds. I was practicing that  before I started the radiation so didn’t find that hard at all and only needed to do it once each session. I was worried about heart and lung issues (my brother had a heart attack at 50 and has ongoing issues & my dad at 64 died from a heart attack) but the oncologist reassured me it would be ok.
    Hope it all goes well x

  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    @Jwrenn Thanks so much for sharing, it's good to know. I did read about the deep breathe technique and it does sound reassuring. Sorry to hear about the history of heart issues in your family. Take care. xx
  • Keeping_positive1
    Keeping_positive1 Member Posts: 473
    I am a conservative person, but strange enough I also like my three "tatts".  I took delight in telling a nephew who has quite a few tattoos that I now have three tattoos, but wouldn't show him as was part of the procedure when I had to have radiation on my breasts.  At that point I think he went red in the face.   :blush:

    Like you @Zoffiel my tattoos were free and I didn't have to decide what artwork I wanted on my body, nor where, such a no brainer for me.  

  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    Thanks @Zoffiel and @Keeping_positive1 . That is good to know and a really positive way to look at it :). Any tips to share on what to do during rads? 
    - I have been advised to apply strata xrt and moogoo cream. How often did you re apply in a day? 
    - Is it ok to still take warm showers ? Did you bathe in salt water on weekends? 
    - any change in dietary requirements?
    - any exercises you would recommend ? 

    Thanks ladies. 😊 
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,362
    @ARichies it wasn't that bad.

    I drove myself to treatment for six weeks--140km round trip. I did get a bit tired towards the end, but I was that pleased to be finished chemo and growing a bit of hair that it seemed like a minor thing to deal with. I stayed a couple of nights in the medihotel, just to break it up a bit.

     I only used sorbelene cream and solugel when my skin started to get a bit sensitive. 

    It wasn't until a couple of days after my last treatment that I started to blister, particularly in my armpit which was their major target. That wasn't pleasant, but just when I was starting to get quite stressed about it, I healed. Literally overnight. Yeah, a bit of skin shedding, which was gross, but the pain just disappeared.

    Drink heaps of water and exercise as you would normally if you feel like it. Walking is probably better than trying to lift weights though. No swimming.

    I showered and bathed as I pleased but avoided any soap or body washes on sensitive areas.  My diet was OK, nothing special. Even though chemo had killed my tastebuds, I was back to eating what I felt like. Fresh, small amounts frequently rather than large meals. Mostly fruit, veg and eggs as my protein levels had dropped during chemo.

    You'll be fine. Any discomfort will pass--even if it is challenging at the time. Look at it this way; you are giving yourself the best chance of survival. Any inconvenience is worth it. Mxx

  • Jwrenn
    Jwrenn Mornington PeninsulaMember Posts: 137
    I had been hoping for the tattoos! Then I wouldn’t be a clean skin I think it’s called but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t feel that much different to normal, just was more tired by the end of treatment. I walked every day for exercise and probably a lukewarm shower is safer. Like Zoffiel I had blistering in the armpit which I put Bepanthem on which I found in the baby section of the supermarket. I used moo goo moisturiser I bought in an oncology pack. 
    I felt a relief that I didn’t need chemo and that radiation wasn’t that bad. Xx
  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    @Zoffiel - Wow! You are true warrior, having to drive yourself 140kms round trip for 6 weeks after treatment must not have been easy. 
    Thank you for sharing all the tips, much appreciated. I do have solugel and moopack from the Oncology Pack as well. 
    I'll make sure to take my walls, eat well, drink lots of water  and continue to stay positive! 
    Absolutely and agree, grateful indeed. 👍 xx
  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    Thanks for the tips @Jwrenn! It seems that many end up with blisters in the armpit and under the breast fold. 
    I'm the same, don't need chemo but my treatment plan includes radiotherapy and hormone blocker - Tamoxifen for 5 years and to be reviewed. Xx 
  • Ausmum2
    Ausmum2 QueenslandMember Posts: 57
    Hi @ARichies
    i didn’t have tattoos either (finished December 2021). The team told me that tattoos are now not done if possible as the research indicates that “the tattoos are seen as another  permanent reminder of treatment.” As a double mastectomy girl I didn’t care….😂
    I was also right so no deep breath, lots of nuking for me and I was warned there was no way we could not leave me with lung damage. I’m a TNBC and had central, auxilla, cervical, supra and infraclavicular and pectoral nodes done. I had mepitel (as I have reactive skin) and was given the silver based burn cream as my skin did blister and form pustules. 
    But here we are out the other side. 
    You’ll do great. 
  • Christabel03
    Christabel03 Member Posts: 43
    Hello again @ARichies
    A little update just in case it may help you in any way, I am now round 18 out of 33 and going along ok. Skin wise I am a little pink around my neck and have had a few itchy patches but the medical staff tell me its to be expected. I am putting Flamigel on three times a day and Strata twice a day, the Strata goes on in the morning and I do it the second time at night after a shower. If I feel like it between those times as well I plaster on some Moo Goo too! I'm warm showering as normal as well and that doesn't seem to be causing an issue. 
    Round 15 I felt like I hit the wall and had a complete bed day once I got home from treatment, I think it just all caught up with me and I was told that around half way is when the body really starts to feel it. 
    You will do great, just listen to your body and ask a million questions when you have nurse reviews etc if you need to they are so helpful. 
  • ARichies
    ARichies Member Posts: 33
    edited July 2022
    Hi @Christabel03. Thank you for sharing. I went for my CT scan, planning and Simulation on Monday just gone. Wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I do have the little little tattoo dots too which I don't mind, they look like tiny little freckles.  I was given the option to have red dye that only comes up under infra-red lights but thought it would be easier with the little black dots. They also have a machine at another centre that uses cameras and won't need the tattoos to line me up but that would mean an hour of extra travel time for me.

    I have been told I will have 15 round of rads starting next Wednesday. Was advised to use moogoo and start moisturising now. I did buy a tube of strata as well. Good to know strata first and then moogoo over the top. 

    I have been warned about the fatigueness as well. Noted re warm shower. Someone on this forum mentioned soaking in bath with Epsom salt on weekends to help with skin. I did check with my breast care nurse and she agreed. 

    Thanks so much. All the best with the rest of your treatment. Take care!