Hope for nose cancer sufferers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 1995, 12:00am

DOCTORS at the Canossa Hospital's Gamma Unit Centre hope to extend their treatment of brain diseases to nose cancer, which has been identified as one of Hong Kong's biggest killers.

Each year more than 400 people in Hong Kong die from a malignant nose tumour, known as nasopharyngeal cancer, making it the second most common form of cancer in the territory.

Another 50,000 die from it in southern China each year.

Its prevalence in southern China has led to it being known as Canton cancer.

The tumour starts deep in the nasal cavity and spreads to the back of the throat.

It is sometimes misdiagnosed because symptoms at first appear to be associated with little more than a heavy cold and include a blocked nose, which may bleed, or deafness in one ear.

As the tumour grows, sufferers find it more difficult to eat and breathe.

Most cases are diagnosed at the later stages of the cancer's development, when it becomes harder to cure.

However, the Gamma Unit Centre's neurologist, Dr Ho Ting-kwok, said the introduction of the Gamma knife to Hong Kong could give cause for optimism.

Dr Ho said Gamma knife radio-surgery, a form of non-invasive surgery, was ideal for treating cancers in awkward places.

Encouraging results in the treatment of this type of cancer with the Gamma knife had emerged from Taiwan, China and United States, he said.