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Justice Ginsburg - Cancer Not Spread

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, February 13, 2009 10:35 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, FDA and Prescription Drugs

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's tumor had not spread doctors say.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Associated Press Video/ Ginsburg on the court


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recovering from pancreas cancer surgery, was released from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on Friday.  Doctors report the 75-year-old’s cancer has not spread beyond a small tumor initially found which was less than one centimeter. 

While that small tumor found during a routine CT scan in late January turned out to benign, a second smaller tumor found during the surgery was malignant but a Stage 1, or the smallest of tumors. It was removed.

The latest information about Ginsburg's case is very promising, said Patrick G. Jackson, chief of gastrointestinal surgery at Georgetown University Hospital.

"It's as good news as she could possibly get," Jackson said. "Given all patients with pancreatic cancer, that best survival rates are in the lowest stage," which offers about a 25 to 35 percent chance of surviving five years, he tells the Washington Post. 

A portion of the pancreas was removed as was Ginsburg’s spleen.  

The prognosis for pancreatic cancer survival is generally not good – about five percent live five years after diagnosis. That’s because the disease is asymptomatic so tumors are generally found at a late stage.

But as a colon cancer survivor, Justice Ginsburg was having regular screenings for cancer, and it was then the first pancreatic tumor was found, which is considered fortunate.  Because they were Stage one, chemotherapy may not be recommended as a follow-up.

Survival rates for cancers such as Ginsburgs’ are described to be at least 50 percent at five years and possibly longer - some data suggests as high as 85 percent.

Justice Ginsburg says she plans to be back when the court reconvenes February 23. She is the only woman on the court after the 2006 retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. #

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