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Cushing’s and Quality of Life

Virtually ALL of the symptoms of Cushing’s affect quality of life. Dr. Vance discussed the results of a quality of life study which used the SF-36 questionnaire. The SF-36 questionnaire is the most common tool used to measure quality of life. This well-validated questionnaire permits comparisons between different diseases and the normal population. The study done at UVA showed that on average Cushing’s patients with active disease have a lower quality of life for both physical and mental function compared to patients with other types of pituitary tumors. Endocrinologists know this, but this may not be appreciated by the general medical community. In another study, personality was assessed and it was found that differences in personality do not account for the emotional problems involved in Cushing’s.

Dr. Mary Lee Vance, Endocrinologist at University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Dr. Vance also discussed a number of studies that compared the quality of life in patients with active Cushing’s and after treatment. The long and the short is that while all studies showed improvements following treatment, there was a spectrum of recovery and not all patients returned to their pre-Cushing’s state, however most do return to their normal self. One study found that 81% returned to work. Dr. Vance has observed that younger patients tend to recover more quickly and that a longer time to diagnosis can result in a reduced quality of life after treatment.

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