Patients to go under X-knife

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 1995, 12:00am

TWO brain cancer patients are waiting to discover who will be the first to undergo X-knife surgery.

Each is a candidate for the arc of high-dosage radiation that can pinpoint a tumour deep within a patient's brain.

Queen Mary Hospital has paid about $4 million for accessories that will transform its linear accelerator - a machine that produces radiation - into an X-knife.

Cancer experts from Hong Kong University and the Queen Mary, announcing the second International Cancer Congress which starts in Hong Kong today, said the machine would take its first patient this month.

Oncologist Dr Jonathan Sham Shun-tong said the X-knife would target tumours buried too deep for surgery and requiring high-dosage radiation.

Another device, the Gamma knife, directs 231 fixed beams of radiation towards the central point. The only such machine in Hong Kong, at Canossa Hospital, allows doctors to use high levels of radiation on the tumour because the myriad beams concentrate radiation without overloading cells in their path.

The X-knife comprises a single beam of radiation that travels back and forth across an arc with its tip fixed on the tumour.

'It is a moving arc so it has an infinite number of beams,' Dr Sham said.

'We have two patients waiting at the moment, and we are deciding who will come first,' he said.

The congress runs at the Convention and Exhibition Centre until Sunday.