Thursday, February 5, 2009
Justice Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery today for a pancreatic tumor at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The renowned surgical oncologist Dr. Murray Brennan performed the operation. It sounds like her doctors discovered a small (1cm) mass either in the head or the body of the pancreas on a recent imaging study. Presumably, she underwent a Whipple procedure (assuming the tumor was not in the tail). Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with Justice Bader Ginsburg and her family at this time.
The reason I'm posting on this (not my usual thing to slap up a post on the latest medical current event before anyone else has) is because an anonymous commenter on my last post asked about "a supreme court justice getting routine screening CT scans" with the implication being that they only found this lesion because of privileged medical care available to a SCJ. Well, I don't think any special indulgences were granted in this situation. Justice B-G has a history of colon cancer, successfully treated in 1999 with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. Getting a yearly surveillance (rather than screening) CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis (and also checking a CBC, liver panel, and a CEA) would be considered to be a routine standard of care follow up measure. This small tumor was probably discovered incidentally on her last scan. So good for her. Hopefully she survives the surgery and does well long term.
Pancreatic cancer after previous colon cancer would an unusual case report. It will be interesting (for prognostic purposes) to see whether this is a primary pancreatic tumor versus a delayed metastatic colonic cancer.....