Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

February 5, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City for “early stage” pancreatic cancer.

Justice Ginsburg, the only woman on the Supreme Court, has undergone two bouts of cancer since she joined the court in 1993.  She is considered one of the more liberal jurists on the bench, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton.

Ginsburg, 75, who had surgery for colon cancer in 1999, is at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the court said in a news release. It said she will likely remain there for seven to 10 days, according to her attending surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan.

“Justice Ginsburg had no symptoms prior to the incidental discovery of the lesion during a routine annual checkup in late January at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland,” the court said.

A CAT scan “revealed a small tumor, approximately one centimeter across, in the center of the pancreas,” it added.

Patrick Swayze’s diagnosis and fight with the disease has put pancreatic cancer in the public eye of late. Pancreatic cancer is especially lethal and is known as a silent killer. Most cases are asymptomatic. And the later the cancer is caught, the lower the chances of survival.

Almost 35,000 Americans are estimated to have died from pancreatic cancer in 2008, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer death overall, according to the American Cancer Society. For all ages combined, the one-year survival rate is 24 percent; the five-year survival rate is 5 percent. People ages 50 to 70 are most at risk for developing the disease. Besides eating right and abstaining from smoking and heavy drinking, there’s very little that can be done to prevent the disease.


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