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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer surgery

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery today after she was diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer, according to a court news release.

The court said that Ginsburg, 75, underwent surgery at the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City; her surgeon Murray Brennan said she would likely remain in the hospital for a week to 10 days.

According to the court statement, a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan "revealed a small tumor" measuring about 0.4 inch (one centimeter) in the center of Ginsburg's pancreas during a routine annual exam late last month at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md. The court said that Ginsburg "had no symptoms prior to the incidental discovery of the lesion."

The surgery comes a decade after Ginsburg—who has served on the high court since Pres. Clinton appointed her in 1993—had surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiation to treat colon cancer. Ginsburg is the only woman on the Supreme Court.

Pancreatic is one of the most deadly forms of cancer; fewer than 5 percent of the nearly 38,000 people diagnosed with it annually survive. The major problem is that it is rarely caught at an early stage—as Ginsburg's reportedly was—because there are few if any symptoms until the disease has spread through the abdomen.

For more on why pancreatic cancer is so potentially lethal, see this ScientificAmerica.com article.

Photo Credit: Obama-Biden Transition Project via Flickr

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