Superficial x-ray treatment uses low energy x-rays to treat cancers that are on or close to the skin’s surface. The x-rays treat the skin and do not penetrate deeply into the body.

Before treatment

Before your Superficial X-ray (SXR) treatment, you will need to attend a planning session. This appointment takes approximately 30 minutes. 
During this appointment, a doctor will draw marks on your skin with a felt-tip pen marking the exact area to be treated. A radiation therapist will then take photographs and make reference templates, so your care team can plan your treatment. All pen marks will be wiped off at the end of the appointment. 

The Radiation Therapist will also tell you about your treatment appointments and provide advice about how to care for your skin during treatment.

What your treatment involves

During your treatment, you will be lying on a bed and the SXR machine will sit gently on your skin. Treatment time depends on the area being treated but is usually about 2-3 minutes. You will need to stay still while the treatment is given. 

The treatment is painless and you will not see anything or feel any sensation while the x-rays are on, but you may hear a buzzing noise coming from the machine.  You will be in the room by yourself while the treatment is delivered, however, the Radiation Therapists will be able to see and hear you the entire time.

If you need anything call out or wave and the Radiation Therapists will come straight back in.  

Superficial x-ray therapy

After treatment

Reactions from SXR treatment usually peak about 2 weeks after treatment.  Most people find that side effects begin to ease about 2-4 weeks after treatment.  Please continue to follow the advice given by the Radiation Therapists until any reaction has subsided.  

The skin in the treated area will always be more sensitive to the sun.  Keep the area covered as much as possible and use an . sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Side Effects

You may experience side effects after your treatment. They vary from person to person and your doctor will explain all the side effects during your consent appointment.
Side effects depend on the:
• amount of radiation given
• area of body treated
• individual response
• energy of radiation.

It is common to develop pink/red skin in the treated area and a scab may form.   Find out about side effects and how to look after your skin during treatment.

If you have any questions please ask a Radiation Therapist when you come in for treatment. You can also call (04) 806 2000 and ask for an SXR staff member.  Our staff are can also answer questions when you come in for treatment. 

People you May Meet

During your treatment you may meet lots of different members of the team. We all work together and share information to give you the best possible care and treatment.  Find out about our care team.

Last updated 23 October 2020.