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Radiation questions

I have a few questions about radiation for you ladies that have had mastectomies.

1. How long did mapping take?

2. Did you get the tattoos while mapping? We’re they large and how many were there?

3. How long did your radiation treatments last? I have heard 3 minutes, I have heard 15 minutes. Is everyone different?

I know this is a lot. But I have found that you guys are the absolute best to ask!! You all have been super helpful. And I am so thankful for a place to go like this.

Hugs to all.


  • lalbo
    lalbo Member Posts: 68
    edited February 2022


    This is my experience:

    1. How long did mapping take?

    Mine took maybe 20 minutes

    2. Did you get the tattoos while mapping? We're they large and how many were there?

    I did not have tattoos, they used different colored permanent markers with little round clear tape over them. I had 4 marks on me the whole time. It did take a little while for the tape and marks to wash off. They did not want me to pull the tape off of the radiated skin.

    3. How long did your radiation treatments last? I have heard 3 minutes, I have heard 15 minutes. Is everyone different?

    My treatments took about 5 minutes, every once in a while they would take longer if they were resetting the machine or taking pictures.

    I had 28 treatments. The last nine, they used a wet towel to intensify the treatment. They called it a bolus. It didn't hurt, but that's when my skin really turned reddish/pink.

    My techs were amazing! They always had my favorite music playing when I got in there and they were always in a good mood. It takes a special person to do that. They always complimented me, I said "I know how to lay down really well". haha

    I hope this information helps!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,880
    edited February 2022

    Lover - I suggest you join the current radiation group thread & read the one before. Everyone is different but you'll be able to get all sorts of feedback.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 12,880
    edited February 2022

    Here's the section. Lots of amazing threads full of advice & stories.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 703
    edited February 2022

    I think mapping took about 45 minutes. They warned me to take advil before but I forgot and regretted it.

    I had 3 tattoos, just dots. For the focused radiation at the end they used some kind of body paint but it kept wearing off me and was a huge pain even for a week. I kind of like the dots now. They are my only tattoos.

    Most of my radiation sessions were maybe 7 minutes? But it depends how fast the set up is, and also once a week they did pictures and that felt like it took a lot longer. The actual radiation time is very short, it's mostly the set up and take down that is time consuming. My techs were also lovely.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 768
    edited February 2022


    Mapping for me was about 45 minutes, but I was also fitted for my bolus which I had to have for every session. I didn't know until last month that I actually had three tattoos placed on me back in September during mapping, they don't hurt. I thought I had gotten away with something when I started rads without them, lol. They're tiny and look like freckles. My treatments last about 6/7 minutes except for the weekly pictures they took which added maybe another 3/4 minutes on that day, usually Monday for me.

    I agree with Minus, join the current months radiation thread and read through prior months threads. They were very informative and helpful for me.

  • Caligirl55555
    Caligirl55555 Member Posts: 20
    edited February 2022

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. When looking at the information posters put whole breast radiation, lymph nodes. Are those the lymph nodes in your armpit, the axillary? If you are node negative (sentinel biopsy) the nodes are not irradiated right? I began treatment today and my doc said they will be hit with radiation because the rays will splay across and up as the tissue goes up in that direction. Is that right?? Everything I've read says that the nodes are not hit unless cancerous. Is that referring only to the lymph nodes by clavicle/collarbone? Am I misunderstanding the location?

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,926
    edited February 2022

    My original plan was for whole breast, I think 22 sessions. When the pathology came back with a micromet in the sentinel node, the radiation plan got changed to 33 sessions and included the axilla and clavicle.