Cancer treatment not appropriate, court told


A leading cancer expert said yesterday a form of light cancer treatment administered to a 15-year-old terminally ill cancer patient of Paschal Carmody’s was not appropriate.

On the fifth day of the deception trial of Dr Carmody at Ennis Circuit Court, Prof Frank Sullivan said he would not consider photodynamic therapy (PDT) appropriate in the care of teenager Conor O’Sullivan.

In June 2002, Conor’s parents, Christina and Derek O’Sullivan, were told by Dr Finn Breathnach that their son had six months to live after he found that the rare bone cancer from which Conor suffered had spread to his skull, thigh and collarbones.

The O’Sullivans have told the trial that Dr Carmody told Conor he could cure his cancer or at worst keep him alive. Dr Carmody denies uttering those words.

Conor died in November 2002.

In expert testimony yesterday on Conor’s case, Prof Sullivan said: “I would never consider a deep-seated bone tumour like this to be appropriate for PDT.”

Prof Sullivan said PDT was used to treat superficial cancers like skin cancer or oesophageal cancer. The lead clinician at the department of radiation oncology at Galway University Hospital said: “At best you may get 5mm to 10mm of penetration with PDT. It is impossible to get a deeper penetration of that light that is effective with the drugs that are commonly used for PDT.”

The late John Sheridan had liver cancer and underwent PDT treatment under the care of Dr Carmody during 2001 and 2002. Mr Sheridan died in November 2002.

Asked to comment on Mr Sheridan receiving PDT, Prof Sullivan said: “There is no way this type of light treatment could penetrate. The liver is on average 10cm to 15cm in depth.”

He added: “The use of PDT in this case is inappropriate due to the extent and location of these cancer cells. PDT would not be considered an option and not provide any benefit.”

The trial continues tomorrow.