Radiation Therapy - Superficial

Superficial X-Ray Therapy is a form of skin cancer treatment. It uses low energy x-rays to treat skin cancer and similar conditions, and is ideal for locations that are too difficult for surgical excision. Highly targeted, with limited side effects in the short and long term, it is an ideal treatment choice for most skin cancers.
What to expect
  1. A Radiation Oncologist will discuss your skin cancer treatment options with you at a consultation. Once a treatment plan is agreed upon, you will be asked to sign a consent form agreeing to have your superficial radiation treatment.
  2. The area that requires treatment will be marked on your skin with a temporary pencil by the Radiation Oncologist.  The Radiation Therapists will then take measurements and a map of the area and perform the necessary calculations.
  3. Once your treatment starts, the radiation therapists will use this map to determine where to place the treatment field. They will draw the area requiring treatment on the skin with a temporary pencil. A thin lead shield will then be placed on the skin which contains a hole that exactly matches the area to be treated. The lead is used to protect the surrounding tissue.
  4. Once the lead is in place, the machine is positioned directly over the hole in the shield. The radiation therapists will then leave the room for a few minutes to turn the machine on, however they will be watching you at all times.
  5. Once the treatment is complete, the temporary pencil and lead shield is removed and you are free to leave.
  6. Treatment is usually given a couple of times a week over a series of weeks, and is painless.
  7. You are not radioactive after this treatment and it is perfectly safe to be around pregnant women and children.
  8. The Radiation Therapists will speak with you each treatment day to discuss how you are feeling. They can offer advice and support for any problems that arise during the treatment. Please don’t hesitate to discuss any issues that may be concerning you.
What are the side effects of Superficial X-Ray Therapy (SXRT)
  1. You will notice short term side effects beginning a week or more after your first treatment. The effects may get worse for several weeks after treatment, and then slowly improve.

  2. You may notice that the skin in the treated area gradually becomes reddened and slightly sore to touch. By the end of your course of treatment the skin in the treatment area may be red, itchy and/ or inflamed. It may ooze, bleed and form a scab several times before it heals. The healing process can take a month to six weeks. The treated area may appear red or tanned for a few months before it fades.

  3. Towards the end of your treatment, or once it is finished, you will begin to lose hair that was included in the treatment area. In nearly all circumstances this hair loss is permanent. Your doctor will discuss this with you.
How do I look after my skin during treatment?
  • If the area being treated is on the face please do not wet shave in that area. You may use an electric shaver. Do not use hair removal creams.
  • We recommend that you do not expose the area to bright sunlight during your treatment and afterwards. If your treatment is to an area on the head or face, it is advisable to wear a hat when outdoors.
  • If the area is covered by clothing, we advise you to wear something loose and non-irritating over the treatment area (silk, cotton). Avoid the use of bandages and dressings whenever possible. It is very important that no adhesive material is place in the treated area. The skin may break when the material is removed. If you feel the need to use a dressing at times, use a breathable dressing  (Eg: Elastoplast Sensitive).
  • Shower as normal. Pat dry and apply Sorbolene cream (you may need to use Solugel if the lesion begins to weep or bleed). Your therapist will advise you if this is needed.
  • Do not use any skin creams and lotions, cosmetics and perfumes in the treatment area as their use may make any skin reaction worse.
  • If the area being treated is on the scalp, do not use a hair dryer, hair dye or perming lotion in the area. Wash hair very gently using a baby shampoo.

    For more information on skin care please click on the following link: PDF Skin Care Guide (176 kb)

What happens after the treatment has finished

Your skin in the treatment area may continue to be slightly more sensitive than before. We recommend that you use a high factor sun cream on the treatment area if you are going to be outside.

When the initial reaction has faded you may notice that the treated area becomes paler. Some patients notice that small veins appear visible just under the skin surface. This is known as telangiectasia. It is normal and of no concern.


Our Practice Manager will make sure you have a follow-up appointment to see your Radiation Oncologist (Doctor) about two months after treatment has finished.

Radiation Therapy Gallery


To be seen by the specialist Radiation Oncologist, we will require a referral from your GP, specialist or dermatologist.


Our superficial x-ray therapy for skin cancer treatment services are bulk billed, which means there are no out of pocket expenses for your treatment. We also have free off-street parking for our patients.

What to bring

  • Valid Medicare, Pensioners, Seniors Health or DVA Card
  • A list of current medications or allergies
  • A list of any medical conditions