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.”