Justice Ginsburg Undergoes Surgery for Colon Cancer

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for colon cancer yesterday, and her doctor would not say whether she will be able to return to work in time for the start of the court's new term in two weeks.

Ginsburg, 66, was diagnosed with colon cancer after seeking treatment at Washington Hospital Center for acute diverticulitis, a gastric disorder, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

The surgery was performed by colorectal surgeon Lee Smith, who said the justice would remain hospitalized for about a week. Arberg said the surgeon "did not speculate when she could return to work."

Asked whether Ginsburg's doctor had offered a long-term prognosis, Arberg said, "This is the extent of the information we will be releasing at this time."

The court's 1999-2000 term is set to begin Oct. 4. The court actually got a head start last week when it issued orders granting review to a half dozen cases to be argued this winter. There was no indication that Ginsburg did not participate in considering those cases.

Arberg said Ginsburg felt ill while teaching in Crete this summer as part of a program run by Tulane University's law school. While there, she was diagnosed as suffering from acute diverticulitis.

It was not until Ginsburg sought treatment at the Washington Hospital Center that the cancer diagnosis was made.

Colon cancer is one of the nation's most common cancers and the second-leading cancer killer, behind lung cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates 131,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year -- cancer of the large intestine or the rectum. …

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