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Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg undergoes treatment for tumor on pancreas

WASHINGTON - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg completed radiation treatment for a malignant tumor found on her pancreas, the Supreme Court disclosed Friday. It is her second treatment within a year for cancer.

The court said the treatment began earlier this month, and no additional treatment is planned.

"The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body," the court's spokeswoman said in a statement. "Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time."

Ginsburg last December had part of a lung removed after cancer was discovered there. For the first time, the 86-year-old justice missed a monthly sitting of the court, although she kept up with oral arguments and wrote a decision from a case argued that month.

She has said since that her health is fine, and that she intends to continue to serve.

Here is the court's statement:

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor. As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed.

"The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time."

Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy is a highly focused radiation treatment that concentrates an intense dose of radiation on a tumor, while limiting the dose to the surrounding organs, according to the Stanford Health Care website. "It has become a treatment of choice for many people with limited volume tumors for whom surgery may not be an optimal treatment," the website said.

Before Friday's disclosure, Ginsburg had battled cancer three times before.

Besides the pulmonary lobectomy in December, in which a lobe of her left lung was removed, Ginsburg was treated for colorectal cancer in 1999, and pancreatic cancer was discovered at a very early stage 10 years later. She scheduled treatment for both during the court's off days, and did not miss a day of oral argument.

Pancreatic cancer is particularly dangerous, but Ginsburg in an interview with NPR in July made light of predictions about her fate at the time.

"There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced, with great glee, that I was going to be dead within six months," she recalled in the interview. "That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive."

The senator was Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who later apologized for his remarks.

Ginsburg has kept up an active schedule since returning to the court in late winter, traveling abroad and speaking to various groups.

During the annual trip to New Mexico mentioned in the statement, Ginsburg spends a week with an eclectic group of friends and attends a production of the Santa Fe Opera.




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