Permanent Tattoos and Marks


Drawing marks on a patient’s skin or marking dots with a permanent tattoo has been a common step in the process of radiation therapy. On average, patients receive three to four markings. In certain cases, AlignRT can eliminate the need for tattoos and permanent marks.

For some individuals, radiation tattoos do not bother them. The needle itself can feel like a needle prick or bee sting. And, in the long term, patients may not notice or be bothered by the permanent marking. Some even see it as a positive reminder of their journey through their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Some centers do not use tattoos but will mark out the area to be treated with pens and/or stickers. It is important that these skin marks are kept for the duration of treatment to allow for accurate positioning each day. You will need to be careful when bathing and washing to not remove these marks.

The good news is there are new technologies that can eliminate the need for tattoos or skin marks.

AlignRT® uses thousands of virtual tattoos using light on your skin. This helps position you with sub-millimeter accuracy and tracks your position during treatment, to ensure you are only treated in the correct position with similar or better accuracy to marks. AlignRT® has been shown in several studies to be more accurate than either marks or tattoos for ensuring patients are properly positioned prior to radiation therapy 1,2,3. AlignRT® can also be used to automatically pause radiation if you move out of the desired position during treatment.

 “I am very happy with the benefits of being treated with the Vision RT technology. Vision RT tracks the body surface during treatment, if any movement is detected, that movement will then stop the treatment. This allows for accurate delivery of treatment. I am also glad that I did not have to get tattoos, which would mark my body permanently, and be a constant reminder of my diagnosis.” stated GenesisCare patient Deborah K.

To support your shared decision-making conversations with your doctor, please feel free to use our downloadable discussion guide.

1. Herron E, et al. Surface guided radiation therapy as a replacement for patient marks in treatment of breast cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics 2018;102 (3):e492-e493.
2. Shah AP, et al. Clinical evaluation of interfractional variations for whole breast radiotherapy using 3-dimensional surface imaging. Pract Radiat Oncol 2013;3 (1):16-25.
3. Sueyoshi, et al Eliminating Daily Shifts, Tattoos, and Skin Marks: Streamlining Isocenter Localization With Treatment Plan Embedded Couch Values for External Beam Radiation Therapy PRO