Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

Ginsburg, 75, Had No Symptoms When Tumor Was Found
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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 1999.

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 it."

Today on WebMD

human pancreas
Do you know what they are?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Integrative Medicine Cancer Quiz
Patrick Swayzes Widow Healing From Loss
Pets Improve Your Health
Resolved To Quit Smoking