Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is up and working as she recuperates from cancer surgery.
A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Arberg, also says that Ginsburg remained in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Sunday. No information has been released on when Ginsburg might return home.
Ginsburg underwent surgery Friday to remove two malignant growths in her left lung. Doctors say there is no evidence of any remaining disease.
The associate justice, 85, had the growths removed after they were discovered by a CT scan when she cracked three ribs in a fall in her office last month.
The court said that there are no remaining signs of cancer in her body after the treatment, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Ruth Bader Gisburg has had two cancerous growths removed from her lungs, the Supreme Court said last week. She spoke about her health in New York on Saturday 15 December during a question-and-answer session at the Museum of the City of New York
Current bench: Bader Ginsburg’s colleagues on the Supreme Court are from front left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. Standing behind from left: Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.
The court next meets on Jan. 7 Despite her health problems, Ginsburg has never missed arguments.
She remains in hospital where she is ‘recovering comfortably’ and will do so for a few days, the court said.
The statement said that Ginsburg had a ‘pulmonary lobectomy.’
‘According to the thoracic surgeon, Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS, both nodules removed during surgery were found to be malignant on initial pathology evaluation,’ the court statement said.
‘Post-surgery there was no evidence of any remaining disease. Scans performed before surgery indicated no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Currently no further treatment is planned.’
Treatment: Thoracic surgeon Valerie W. Rusch has found no evidence of remaining disease after removing two cancers
The justice fell in her office on November 8, fracturing three ribs.
She was treated at George Washington University hospital in Washington D.C., where the tests were carried out which led to Friday’s surgery in her native New York.
The survival rate for patients who undergo lobectomies is high, with between 85 to 95 per cent of people treated living five years or more afterwards.
It is Bader Ginsburg’s third treatment for cancer since she joined the court in 1993.
In 1999 she was successfully treated for colorectal cancer and in 2009 for pancreatic cancer.
Among other health problems, she also broke two ribs in a fall in 2012 and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She was hospitalized after a bad reaction to medicine in 2009.
Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is now both the oldest member of the bench and the leader of its four-justice liberal wing.
She rebuffed suggestions from some liberals that she should step down in the first two years of President Barack Obama’s second term, when Democrats controlled the Senate and would have been likely to confirm her successor.
The 85-year-old Brooklyn native was interviewed by NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg last Saturday, speaking of her health and saying she was ‘almost repaired’
Movie phenomenon: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is to be played by Felicity Jones (center) in On The Basis of Sex, which comes out on Christmas Day. It also stars (from left) Justin Theroux, Mimi Leder, and Armie Hammer, and was directed by Daniel Stiepleman
With the star: Justin Theroux and Armie Hammer both posted pictures with the Supreme Court Justice earlier this month, ahead of a Washington D.C. screening of On The Basis of Sex
She already has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020, indicating she has no plans to retire.
Ginsburg had spoken of her health in New York on Saturday, saying she was ‘almost repaired’ from the fall in her office which cracked two ribs.
The 85-year-old Brooklyn native was interviewed by NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenberg and when asked how her health is, Ginsburg said ‘it’s fine, thank you,’ adding that her ribs are ‘almost repaired’.
‘And yesterday was my first day doing my whole workout routine,’ she said, in a reference to a high-intensity workout which has become famous in its own right.
Her trainer had stopped her from doing upper body work in the aftermath of the fall.
Ginsburg was the second woman to become a member of the Supreme Court, following Justice Sandra Day O´Connor, who retired in 2006. O’Connor, 88, said in October she is suffering from dementia.
Ginsburg called Trump an egotistical ‘faker’ when he was running for president in 2016. Trump responded by saying her ‘mind is shot’ and she should quit the court. Ginsburg later expressed regret for her comments, saying ‘judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office.’
When she fell last month, however, Trump said he was praying for her recovery.
Bader Ginsburg’s cultural fame has led to her being nicknamed ‘Notorious RBG.’ and she is now the subject of an upcoming biopic, On The Basis of Sex, in which she is played by British actress Felicity Jones.
RUTH BADER GINSBURG’S PULMONARY LOBECTOMY, EXPLAINED
WHAT IS A PULMONARY LOBECTOMY?
A pulmonary lobectomy is the surgical removal of a cancerous or diseased segment of the lung, rather than the entire organ.
The procedure is done when only a portion of the lung is unhealthy.
When diseased tissue is isolated to just one portion of the lung, it means that it is either pre-cancerous or in the early stages of cancer.
Removing the cancerous, diseased, infected or suspicious portion of a lung prevents whatever is ailing it from spreading to the rest of the organ – or beyond.
Surgeons make an incision, usually starting near the nipple and continuing around to the back, ending under the shoulder blade.
They can then get to the lung between the ribs. Sometimes, a guided camera is used instead, to make the surgery less invasive.
HOW THE LUNGS KEEP WORKING AFTER A PORTION HAS BEEN REMOVED
Each pair of lungs has a total of five lobes – three in the right and two in the left lung.
The lungs have multiple lobes as a sort of fail-safe system so that if one lobe is damaged, the rest can keep on breathing. In modern medicine, this allows the organs to keep working after a portion is removed to stop disease spread.
The lungs are remarkably regenerative.
When one section, or lobe is removed effectively and without complications, the rest of the organ can continue functioning normally.
SURGEONS REMOVED ONE LOBE OF RBG’S LUNG
Just one of the five lobes of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lungs was removed (or resected) during.
Surgeons cut out the lower of the two lobes of the Justice’s left lung.
When the investigated the removed tissues they found two ‘nodules’ – suspicious lumps of tissue that didn’t match the rest of the organ.
Sometimes these are harmless, or benign. Other times nodules are cancerous, or malignant. Pathologists have to test the tissue after it’s removed to find out.
The two nodules in Justice Ginsburg’s lung were malignant, or cancerous.
But upon inspection of the rest of her lungs, there were no signs of any other nodules or cancers – good news, meaning that they caught the disease very early.
THE RISKS (AND BENEFITS) OF A LUNG LOBECTOMY
Lung lobectomies are invasive surgeries, and the risks and rate of complications vary. Women tend to fare better than men.
The possible complications are considerable. They include:
- A pleural space that can lead to lung collapse
- An air leak
- Pus developing in the chest cavity
- Fluid buildup between the lung and chest wall
After surgery, most are dependent on a ventilator for a few day, though some struggle to breath unassisted for longer.
Most of the complications tend to resolve themselves.
But some, like chest pain may linger. About half of patients who undergo lobectomies report lasting aches.
The upside is that between 85 and 95 percent of people who have lobectomies to prevent the spread of cancer survive for at least the following five years.