- Dr. Phillip Parmet says y90 liver cancer treatment can be highly effective -
“Finding out you have cancer of the liver is a scary thing.”
Those were the first words of a Tribune reader who didn’t want to be identified but wanted to praise a procedure she’s undergone, and the physician who performed the procedure, the patient writes, “…so that my spirits are lifted as he gave me the best option for a very long life.”
The procedure the Tribune reader wrote about is called the y90 procedure and the physician is Phillip Parmet, a Houston native who studied biochemistry and cell biology at Rice University before earning his medical degree from the University of Texas Houston Medical School.
“Most liver cancer patients undergo surgery or chemotherapy, depending on the tumor,” said Parmet. “However, not all patients are candidates for these therapies or may not respond completely.”
For these patients, y90 can be highly effective, Parmet said, “…shrinking liver tumors, limiting cancer growth, improving survival, and maintaining quality of life. It’s very well tolerated and 75-95% of patients see positive responses, some even achieving complete disease response.”
Here’s how the y90 procedure works.
The procedure is minimally-invasive meaning, rather than make large cuts in the skin, the physician navigates a tiny tube from an artery in the groin or wrist into the liver, where millions of tiny glass or resin microspheres are sent to lodge in the tumors and emit high doses of radiation destroying the tumors while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
“Cancer is very difficult to cure completely once it has spread,” Parmet said. “Many of our patients achieve excellent response from y90 therapy but we still consider it a palliative treatment option in most cases, meaning it won’t provide a cure but instead helps slow down tumor growth and alleviates symptoms.”
And, Parmet pointed out, y90 therapy targets only the liver disease. It cannot address the cancer potentially spreading elsewhere in the body.
“That’s why multidisciplinary collaboration and proper patient selection is important so that our patients are set up for success,” he said.
Phillip Parmet began his journey in interventional radiology first as chief resident at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, followed by a residency in diagnostic and interventional radiology at UT Houston Medical School, and finally a fellowship in vascular and interventional radiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he honed his y90 skills and underwent specific training with one-on-one proctoring and additional licensing before performing the procedure independently.
“I’ve treated several patients with this procedure who’ve had a great response to it,” Parmet said. “Our y90 program was initially established at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands and I’ve recently been able to start the program at Memorial Hermann Northeast as well.”
Parmet is an interventional radiologist with Synergy Radiology Associates, more than 80 board certified radiologists who form Houston’s largest private practice serving 11 hospitals and several outpatient imaging centers in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties.
He is lead interventional radiologist at Memorial Hermann Northeast and medical director of radiology services for Northeast, and was named Northeast’s 2019 Physician of the Year, too.
“Synergy is the premier radiology practice in Greater Houston,” Parmet said. “As a life-long Houstonian who wanted to practice in my hometown, Synergy is a natural fit.”
Parmet’s list of skills is long and varied. Image-guided biopsies, port-a-cath placements, thermal tumor ablations, tumor embolizations, minimally-invasive outpatient treatment options for painful spine fractures and uterine fibroids, controlling life-threatening internal bleeding, draining intra-abdominal infections, placing feeding tubes, and helping maintain dialysis access, all without the need for more invasive surgery.
When he’s not in his new state-of-the-art interventional radiology angiography suite that Memorial Hermann Northeast built for him, Parmet and his household CEO and wife, Shay, spend lots of family time with their children.
“With two children under age 3, I’m sure most parents of younger kids understand, my biggest hobby outside of work is watching them grow up,” he said.
Parmet has always had a strong interest in the STEM fields and a fascination with emerging technologies.
“I’m grateful to be in a career where I can provide life-saving emergent interventions to treat life-threatening conditions such as cancer,” he said. “Most patients are amazed we are able to deliver such a targeted therapy from a tiny incision and go home the same day with minimal side effects.”
Even more amazing to Parmet’s patients is that they see significant tumor shrinkage in the months after the procedure.
“Sadly, though, cancer is a horrible disease and often in a very advanced stage by the time it appears in the liver,” he admited. “Nevertheless, our patients are thankful that we can help them stay optimistic as they continue their cancer fight.”
Parmet gets many comments from his patients, “… but the most meaningful compliment I ever received was when a patient said, ‘thank-you for saving my daughter’s life.’”
The Tribune reader who wrote about Parmet agrees.
“So far, it looks so good there is every possibility I will have a lot more years,” the Tribune reader wrote. “I have faith in God, yes, and I also have faith in Dr. Parmet.”