Radiotherapy for skin cancer

Radiotherapy uses high-energy X-rays to treat cancer. It damages cells in the treatment area, killing the cancer cells. Radiotherapy is a treatment for skin cancers, such as:

There are different types of radiotherapy. The type you’re offered will depend on the area being treated. Your doctor will explain which type you’re having and why.

Preparing for radiotherapy

You may have more than 1 appointment to prepare for radiotherapy treatment.

Discussing your treatment

You will see a specialist cancer doctor (oncologist). This appointment will be at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital, or at another hospital where the doctor has a clinic. 

Your doctor will decide the amount of radiotherapy you will have. It may be given in 1 treatment or split into a course of smaller treatments (fractions) that are given over days or weeks. The doctor will tell you about your course of radiotherapy and any possible side effects.

If you have any questions, you can ask the doctor or speak to the radiographers when you have your first radiotherapy appointment.

Planning appointment

Your radiotherapy planning appointment and treatment will be at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital. They will plan your treatment specifically for you.

You will be asked to lie on the treatment couch. The doctor or radiographer look at the area of your body that needs to be treated. They may mark the areas to be treated with a pen and take measurements. They will, with your consent, take a photograph. If there is a scab on your skin cancer the doctor might need to remove it.

The doctor or radiographer may make a custom cut-out for you. This is a thin sheet of lead that is placed on the treatment area to protect the skin that does not need treatment.

We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. If you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This confirms that you understand what the treatment involves, and agree to have it. 

If you would like more information about our consent process, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.

Resource number: 1720/VER9
Last reviewed: June 2023
Next review: June 2026

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have questions about radiotherapy, please contact:

Radiotherapy reception, phone 020 7188 7188, extension 57542 or 57569. 

Radiotherapy treatment support team, phone: 020 7188 4220, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm. 

Acute oncology assessment unit, phone: 020 7188 3754

Outside normal hours, please contact the main switchboard, phone: 020 7188 7188 and ask for ‘operator’ or press 0. Ask for the on-call clinical oncology registrar.

If you’re concerned please go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Support for you

Psychological support 

A clinical psychologist is available for anyone affected by skin cancers. Their aim is to help you live better with the diagnosis and to reduce distress.

If you would like to talk to the clinical psychologist, ask your doctor or clinical nurse specialist to refer you or phone 020 7188 7188, extension 51874.  

Dimbleby Cancer Care

We have a drop-in information area staffed by specialist nurses. They offer complementary therapies, psychological support and benefits advice for patients and carers.

To find out more phone 020 7188 5918 or email [email protected]

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Is this health information page useful?