Ginsburg Faces Long Odds in Cancer Fight

Justice remains hospitalized, plans quick return to bench
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2009 3:13 PM CST
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes part in a swearing in ceremony at the State Department.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s pancreatic cancer is likely the more common, deadlier variety, with a high incidence of recurrence and a grim survival rate, HealthDay reports. Doctors took some comfort in the likelihood the cancer was found early. “She was able to have surgery, and only people who are early-stage cases are amenable to surgery,” one said. The Supreme Court said today the justice plans to hear arguments Feb. 23, less than 3 weeks after going under the knife, USA Today reports.

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma accounts for 85% of diagnoses, and only about 5% of those patients live 5 years from diagnosis. After yesterday’s surgery, Ginsburg will likely undergo chemotherapy and radiation. The bad news: "Pancreatic cancer usually responds poorly to our available therapies,” the doctor said. Ginsburg, 75, is a 10-year survivor of colon cancer, though the cases are likely unrelated.