U.S. Supreme Court Justice Has Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer

Ginsberg Pancreatic Cancer

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75, had surgery on Thursday for pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg is the court's lone female and only the second woman member in its history. She was appointed to the court in 1993 by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

She was operated on for what the court announced to be"apparently early-stage" pancreatic cancer at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Ginsburg had colon cancer in 1999, but has showed no further signs of that disease after surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Her success in beating colon cancer has inspired mny others in their own fight with the disease.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg showed no symptoms of pancreatic cancer before the initial discovery during a routine annual check-up in late January. A CAT scan revealed a small tumor, approximately one centimeter across, in the center of the pancreas.


Ginsburg's attending surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, says she will likely remain in the hospital about 7 to 10 days.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is about 5 percent. It is often found late as patients show few symptoms until the disease is advanced. Because of this, most patients die within six months of diagnosis.

If the tumor looks like it can be removed, a complex surgical procedure can help patients live longer, with the overall five-year survival about 20 percent.

Patients whose cancer is caught before it spreads into their lymph nodes may have up to a 40 percent survival rate.

It is estimated that 37,680 Americans get pancreatic cancer each year and 34,290 die of it.

American Cancer Society