Total skin electron beam therapy

Radiotherapy uses high-energy X-rays to treat cancer. It damages cells in the treatment area, killing the cancer cells.  

Total skin electron beam therapy (TSEBT) is a specialised type of radiotherapy that treats your skin. It is used to treat lymphomas that affect many areas of your skin, which cannot be treated with a single field of radiation. This type of treatment is usually recommended when you have not responded to topical treatments, or if the lymphomas have come back after you have had treatment. 

It is given by machines producing beams of high-energy electrons. An electron beam will only treat the skin surface.

Benefits of TSEBT

TSEBT treats as much of the skin surface as possible, to heal or help improve widespread areas of the lymphoma.

TSEBT only treats the skin surface, and does not travel deep into the body, therefore minimising side effects from the radiotherapy.

Risks of TSEBT 

Your oncologist will discuss all the risks of this treatment with you during the consent process.

The dose (amount) of radiation used during treatment is carefully planned and controlled to treat the cancer cells, while minimising the dose to areas which do not need treatment. 

Other treatment options

Often before TSEBT is recommended, other forms of treatment may have been unsuccessful, or the lymphoma has developed all over your skin.

Lymphoma Action have more information on treatments for skin lymphoma.

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 states that you understand what the treatment involves, and you agree to have it.

You can read about our consent process

Before treatment starts

TSEBT and pregnancy 

If you are able to get pregnant, and are under the age of 60, you will be asked to confirm your pregnancy status before the planning session starts. It is very important that you are not, and do not become, pregnant while having radiotherapy planning and treatment.

If you think you might be pregnant at any time during your course of treatment, please tell your clinical oncologist or radiographer immediately. If necessary, please speak to your GP about contraception methods suitable for use during radiotherapy.

Planning appointment

Before treatment starts, you will have a planning appointment. This is where your treatment will be planned based on your needs.

You will be shown how to place yourself into 6 different treatment positions.  

We will measure your waist and take an impression of your shape. This allows us to position you accurately for treatment.

Length of treatment

Treatment will start 1 to 2 weeks after your planning appointment. Treatment is given on 4 consecutive days (days in a row). This will be either Monday to Thursday, or Tuesday to Friday. Each treatment session will last for 30 to 45 minutes.

In total, your treatment will last for either 2 weeks or 5 weeks. Your doctor will discuss the length of your treatment with you. 


You will need to travel to the Cancer Centre at Guy’s each day, or you might be able to stay in the accommodation provided by the hospital.

The accommodation rooms are based within the hospital sites at Guy’s Hospital or St Thomas’ Hospital. 

You can ask your oncologist about accommodation when you consent to treatment. If you’re eligible, the radiotherapy bookings team will book this for you when they schedule your radiotherapy appointment.

Resource number: 0602/VER6
Last reviewed: January 2024
Next review due: January 2027

Contact us

If you have any questions about total skin electron beam therapy (TSEBT), please contact:

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

The skin cancer clinical nurse specialists team, phone: 020 7188 4901

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. Or you can contact the acute oncology service on phone: 0207 188 3754.   

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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