Gins­burg says can­cer has re­turned, but she won’t re­tire


WASHINGTON — Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg said Fri­day she is re­ceiv­ing chemo­ther­apy for a re­cur­rence of can­cer but has no plans to re­tire from the Supreme Court.

The 87-year-old Gins­burg, who has had four ear­lier bouts with can­cer in­clud­ing pan­cre­atic can­cer last year, said her treat­ment so far has suc­ceeded in re­duc­ing le­sions on her liver and she will con­tinue chemo­ther­apy sessions ev­ery two weeks “to keep my can­cer at bay.”

“I have of­ten said I would re­main a mem­ber of the court as long as I can do the job full steam. I re­main fully able to do that,” Gins­burg said in a state­ment is­sued by the court.

Gins­burg, who was ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1993, is the se­nior lib­eral jus­tice on a court that leans con­ser­va­tive by a 5-4 mar­gin. Her de­par­ture be­fore the elec­tion could give Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump the chance to shift the court fur­ther to the right.

Gins­burg’s his­tory with can­cer goes back more than 20 years. In ad­di­tion to be­ing treated with­out surgery for a tu­mor on her pan­creas last year, she also un­der­went surgery for col­orec­tal can­cer in 1999, pan­cre­atic can­cer in 2009 and lung can­cer in De­cem­ber 2018.

Dr. Alan Venook, a pan­cre­atic can­cer spe­cial­ist at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco, who is not in­volved in Gins­burg’s care, said that “clearly, she’s got in­cur­able dis­ease now” be­cause of the spread to her liver.

On av­er­age, pa­tients with ad­vanced pan­cre­atic can­cer live about a year, but the fact that her dis­ease took so long to re­cur from her ini­tial pan­cre­atic can­cer surgery in 2009 and pre­vi­ous treat­ments “sug­gests that it’s not been grow­ing rapidly,” he said.

“She’s above av­er­age in many ways” and has done re­mark­ably well with all her treat­ments so far, Venook said. “There’s no rea­son to think she would die im­mi­nently.”

Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg

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