Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery today after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court said.
Ginsburg, 75, had the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. According to her surgeon Dr. Murray Brennan she will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days.
The court announcement said the cancer is apparently in the early stages. In 1999, Ginsburg, had surgery for colon cancer and had chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The pancreatic cancer was discovered during a routine annual exam late last month at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. A CAT scan revealed a tumor measuring about 1 centimeter across the center of her pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers: Nearly 38,000 cases a year are diagnosed and overall, fewer than 5 percent survive five years. Fewer than one in 10 cases are diagnosed at an early stage — like Ginsburg’s appears to be — before the cancer has begun spreading through the abdomen and beyond. That’s because early pancreatic cancer produces few symptoms other than vague indigestion.
Even when caught early, surgery for pancreatic cancer is laborious. Doctors typically remove parts of the pancreas, stomach and intestines. Radiation and chemotherapy are common after surgery.
Ginsburg has recently told her former law clerks and others that she had no plans to retire any time soon, although those comments were made before the latest diagnosis. She has been a justice since 1993.
Ginsburg is one of the few liberal freethinking Justices of the Court – we wish her a speedy recovery.