The removed growths, which were discovered following Ginsburg’s hospitalization last month after she fell and broke three ribs, were found to be malignant last week. As NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports, doctors expect the 85-year-old Supreme Court justice to make a full recovery from the surgery, and Ginsburg reportedly hopes to be back in court by early January, when the next argument session begins. Per Ginsburg’s spokesperson, the justice is currently recovering at home.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a pulmonary lobectomy today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Two nodules in the lower lobe of her left lung were discovered incidentally during tests performed at George Washington University Hospital to diagnose and treat rib fractures sustained in a fall on November 7,” the Supreme Court statement reads in part.
Doctors reportedly found an abnormality in one lobe of Ginsburg’s lung during a November CT scan of her fractured ribs. The justice underwent biopsies and other tests, which showed two non-small cell cancerous lesions, according to NPR. During the Friday surgery, one of the five lobes of her lung were removed.
It continues, “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.” According to the statement, Ginsburg is now “resting comfortably” at the hospital, where she will likely remain for the next few days. NPR reports that doctors typically expect patients to spend two to four days in the hospital as they recover from this type of surgery.
This wasn’t Ginsburg’s first health issue since taking the bench. In 1999, she was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The justice also underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer (which was detected in the early stages) a decade later. In 2014, she underwent heart surgery, and in November this year, she was hospitalized for fractured ribs. As Supreme Court reporter Steven Mazie pointed out, her recent rib injury may just have saved her life:
This post has been updated throughout.