UK & World News

  • 8 December 2012, 19:57

Cancer Boy Court Case Delayed For A Week

The mother of a seven-year-old boy with cancer has said she does not want him to receive potentially life-saving radiotherapy because she is worried about the side effects.

Neon Roberts underwent surgery on a brain tumour in October and as a follow-up treatment doctors recommended a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

But his mother Sally said the side effects of the radiation could have a "damaging effect on his future".

Her estranged husband Ben Roberts, however, agrees with doctors, who say his chances of survival would be increased if he had the treatment.

A High Court judge will rule on the matter later this month. A decision had been expected on Saturday, but a "change in the medical landscape" meant a new hearing was set for December 18 and 19.

Giving evidence to the court on Friday, Mrs Roberts said: "I wish for the best future for my son, the best quality of life. I fear radiotherapy could have damaging effects on his future."

Mrs Roberts described her son as having an "incredible sense of humour" and being "a great artist, vibrant and healthy".

She told the court that she had researched the side effects of radiotherapy and asked experts for advice.

She said she feared his IQ would be affected and that he could have a shorter life with increased chances of suffering a stroke.

Doctors said the boy's chances of surviving would be significantly reduced if he did not receive the radiotherapy and want to start the treatment next Thursday.

A doctor involved in Neon's care told the court that Ms Roberts' comments were very sensible and accepted that there could be side effects but said that without the treatment the little boy could die within a few months.

"I think it is a balance. I don't think it's a fine balance," said the doctor. "There is a distinct disadvantage in terms of the overall survival.

"There are side effects that occur but we must not underestimate the quality of life of patients who have these side effects."

He added: "The vast majority of parents will have concerns whether to make the decision but go with the treatment recommended."

Mr Roberts was not at the hearing because he was with Neon - but he wrote to tell the judge that he had agreed to radiotherapy because it seemed to be the"best course".

"Obviously I am concerned about side effects and slightly apprehensive about radiotherapy," said Mr Roberts' message.

"If Sally produces sufficient evidence that radiotherapy is not a necessity then I am happy to support her."

Mr Justice Bodey said the boy's condition was "the stuff of every parent's nightmare" and that he would balance the benefits of radiotherapy against the "downsides" when making his decision.

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