Dr. Ka-Kit Hui is no expert on mesothelioma cancer, but he helps mesothelioma patients live longer and better lives every day.
Committed to teaching the benefits of integrative medicine, Hui’s vision blends the best of traditional Chinese and conventional Western medicines, skillfully bridging the gap between the two.
He launched the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine in 1993 — one of the first integrative medicine centers in the U.S. — leading it to national prominence.
Clinically proven to improve health and healing, its programs often increase survival time.
“Our hope is to do things that improve the quality of life, which increases the quantity of life,” Hui told Asbestos.com. “We’re doing this, not just for mesothelioma, but for the world.”
Treating the Whole Person with Integrative Medicine
Hui delivered his message again at the 6th International Symposium on Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma at UCLA last year.
“We want more people to be aware of what’s out there,” Hui said. “It’s about treating not just the cancer or the symptoms, but treating the whole person. There are different ways to stimulate the body to help heal itself. We can teach that.”
His integrative approach begins with methods as simple as improving diet and nutrition, reducing stress, promoting better sleep and preventing inflammation that often leads to serious problems.
“You can teach people to take care of themselves. Our hope is to get people to understand that while we look for a cure for certain diseases, there are a lot of things we can do to try and improve quality of life,” Hui said. “You also can do things that are helpful in preventing many diseases.”
Therapies can include:
“Patients now have trouble figuring out how to deal with all the different modalities we’re using in Western medicine,” Hui said. “With integrative medicine, it can become too big of a buffet. We want to create a gourmet dinner with only the finest ingredients. You do that by personalizing, customizing the approach.”
Integrative Care Is Comprehensive Care
Western medicine, Hui believes, is most effective in targeting localized, isolated problems and acute care. Chinese medicine takes more of a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body.
His center created a model of comprehensive care with an emphasis on disease prevention and health promotion, including treatment and rehabilitation through an integrative practice.
Integrative medicine is an important part of the curriculum at the UCLA School of Medicine, where there are fellowships and residencies that focus on it. Primary care physicians coming from UCLA are well-versed in its benefits.
“It’s important that physicians understand the concept, so they can treat the whole patient and not just the disease,” he said. “It can be used at every stage, to minimize complications, or help someone heal faster, help them deal with the side effects of chemotherapy.”
Hui is board certified in internal medicine and clinical pharmacology with an expertise in geriatrics. His years of expertise include working with the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
Regularly leading groups of U.S. doctors to China to learn more about complementary and alternative medicine practices, Hui believes integrative medicine can promote a patient’s self-healing mechanisms and improve their general well-being.
Benefits of Integrative Medicine
During his recent symposium talk, Hui discussed integrative medicine benefits throughout the cancer journey.
- Improved quality of life
- Symptom management
- Improved ability to tolerate conventional therapies
- Prevention of progression
- Maintenance of remission
- Assistance to late-stage palliative care
Many integrative programs emerged throughout the country in the last 20 years at prominent medical centers such as the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
“This is about looking at the big picture and bringing medicine back to the individual person,” Hui said. “It’s about incorporating this approach into the whole scheme of things. If you do that, you’re really helping the patients.”