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Old 10-17-2002, 08:49 AM
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Default My opinion re: "2-year life expectancy"

Hi all,

I'm sure most of you have heard or read the statement that a Cushing's dog lives only about 2 years after diagnosis, and some of you may have even heard that the 2-year prognosis is with or without treatment.

I usually say "that's just not true", and I do believe that it is not true, and I personally know of many dogs who lived 7 years or more after having been diagnosed with Cushing's, but I thought I should elaborate a bit and explain why I don't think that statistic is correct as pertains to all Cushing's dogs.

Although it may be an accurate statistic which I believe was derived from data collected some years ago, we have to remember that it is just a statistic, just an AVERAGE which is based on data collected from a fairly small group of dogs who were diagnosed with Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism).

The following is also very important to consider:

Most Cushing's dogs are already quite "senior" by the time they are diagnosed, and many would not have lived much longer than 2 more years even if they did not have Cushing's or any other health issues.

The data from which that 2-year prognosis statistic was formulated includes:

... some dogs who were not treated at all for the Cushing's Disease

... some dogs who may have been diagnosed and treated by inexperienced Vets or Vets who were perhaps too conservative in their treatment of the dogs and never really got the dogs' Cushing's well-controlled.

... some owners who quit treatment at the first sign that the dog didn't feel well (when it may have been only a dose adjustment that was needed to get the dog feeling well again and to maintain good control of cortisol production)

... some owners who were not observant or not diligent about giving the prescribed medication and/or were not having the dog monitored as recommended with periodic ACTH stim testing to check cortisol production and to know for certain if or when dose adjustments might be needed etc.

... some dogs who were diagnosed only by the time the Cushing's was quite advanced and by then some irreversible organ damage (liver, kidneys, heart etc) may have already occurred

When you take scenarios like the above-mentioned ones and add that data all together with the available data on the Cushing's dogs who are successfully treated and have successful outcomes, many of whom live 5, 6, 7 years or more after diagnosis with an excellent quality of life, well, you may actually get an AVERAGE 2-year prognosis, but that does not mean that a dog who is correctly diagnosed and treated for Cushing's will only live 2 more years from the time of diagnosis.

That statistic is only an "average" and we must remember what data that average is based on.

The statistic includes, for various reasons as described above, some dogs who lived only a few months after diagnosis as well as dogs who lived many years after diagnosis.

There are quite a few excellent websites about Canine Cushing's but many do throw in that "2-year" prognosis statistic without explaining how it was arrived at ... nor do they qualify that statistic by explaining that it does NOT mean that every Cushing's dog diagnosed will probably only live another 2 years.

When correctly diagnosed and treated by a knowledgeable Vet who has experience in successfully treating and managing dogs with Cushing's, a Cushing's dog can live a normal lifespan with an excellent quality of life.

That is what my dog's Internist tells me I should believe, and since she has successfully treated many Cushing's dogs who lived long and well with Cushing's under her care, she really knows what she's talking about, and I am sure that she is right.

Last edited by acushdogsmom; 06-05-2008 at 05:04 PM.
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