Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Pancreatic Cancer Surgery
Ginsburg, 75, Had No Symptoms When Tumor Was Found
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 5, 2009 -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75, had
surgery today for what appears to be early-stage pancreatic
cancer, according to a statement released by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ginsburg will likely remain at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center, where the surgery was done, for seven to 10 days, according to Murray
Brennan, MD, FACS, who performed the surgery. The Supreme Court's statement
doesn't include details about what type of pancreatic cancer Ginsburg has or
what her surgery involved.
Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer was found in late January during a routine
annual exam. A computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan showed a tumor,
measuring about 1 centimeter across, in the center of Ginsburg's pancreas.
Ginsburg had no symptoms before her pancreatic cancer was found, according
to the Supreme Court. Pancreatic cancer often doesn't show any obvious signs,
which is why it's typically not found until its late stages.
The pancreas is a long, flat gland that lies in the abdomen behind the
stomach. It makes enzymes that aid digestion and certain hormones that help
maintain the proper level of sugar in the blood.
Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President
Clinton, had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat colorectal cancer in
Today, Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer
Society, issued a statement about Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer. "Justice
Ginsburg's success in beating back a diagnosis of colon cancer
nearly 10 years ago has inspired and given hope to many in the cancer fight.
This new diagnosis [of pancreatic cancer] is unfortunate, and we take hope in
reports that this was apparently an early stage of disease, and wish her well,
offer our support and prayers, and want to encourage her in what we know is
going to be a challenging course of therapy," Brawley states.
Speaking at a women's health research dinner in May 2001, Ginsburg said that
"cancer is a dreadful disease" and that medicine had made "enormous
progress" since her husband had cancer in 1958. At that dinner, Ginsburg
said, "There is nothing like a cancer bout to make one relish the joys of
being alive. It is as though a special, zestful spice seasons my work and days.
Each thing I do comes with a heightened appreciation that I am able to do