WASHINGTON (CN) – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery Friday to remove two cancerous growths in her left lung, a U.S. Supreme Court spokeswoman said this morning.
Ginsburg, 85, is the court’s oldest justice and has faced cancer before. She had surgery for colorectal cancer in 1999 and underwent treatment for pancreatic cancer in 2009.
Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said Ginsburg had the growths removed today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Doctors said they found “no evidence of any remaining disease” in her lungs or elsewhere in her body after a full scan.
The malignant nodules were only found after Ginsburg went in for tests this October following a fall in her office that fractured her ribs.
Ginsburg will remain in the hospital for a few days to recover.
The Supreme Court does not go back in session until Jan. 7.
Bruce Johnson, the chief clinical research officer and institute physician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in an interview Friday that, even in their 70s and 80s, people in relatively good health are typically out of the hospital in a matter of days.
It’s the postoperative period, however, that can be particularly trying.
“We usually tell people who are recovering from an operative procedure, where a part of the lung is removed, that it can take a month or even a couple of months until a person feels they are 70 to 90 percent of what they once were,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted that results vary widely depending on the person’s health.
“After you have surgery, you’re pretty tired and need to rest and recover,” he said.
A stalwart for women’s and human rights, Justice Ginsburg has regularly said that she will continue to serve on the Supreme Court as long as she can.
This past Sunday in Manhattan, Ginsburg attended a screening of “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic in which she is portrayed as a young woman by the actress Felicity Jones. The film portrays Ginsburg’s early professional life and her ascendancy to the nation’s highest court.
She told reporters after the viewing she would do her job as long as she can do it “full steam.”
Nicknamed Notorious RBG, Ginsburg is celebrating her 25th anniversary at the court this year.
In January she signaled that she intends to press forward for at least two years more: The justice hired a full set of law clerks for a term extending through 2020.
Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is only the second female justice to be confirmed to the court.
The first woman to ever sit on the court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. O’Connor retired in 2006.
This story is developing…
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