Ruth Bader Ginsburg is recovering from an operation that removed cancerous masses on her lungs — fortunately discovered by doctors while treating the Supreme Court justice for broken ribs.
According to a Supreme Court announcement Friday, doctors discovered malignant nodules on the lower lobe of her left lung while the 85-year-old justice underwent testing at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., related to an accident on Nov. 7. (Ginsburg cracked three ribs after falling in her office, the Associated Press reported, forcing her to miss a welcoming ceremony for Justice Brett Kavanaugh).
The surgery Friday — a pulmonary lobectomy — was conducted by thoracic surgeon Valerie Rusch, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It concluded with “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.” Ginsburg will be hospitalized over the weekend.
BREAKING: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a pulmonary lobectomy in NYC today to remove two nodules from her lung, which were determined to be malignant. "Post-surgery, there was no evidence of any remaining disease," the court's public information office reports. pic.twitter.com/t4gGzi9Z2L
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) December 21, 2018
When a person is diagnosed with lung cancer, a lung abscess, emphysema or certain infections, a lobectomy is performed to remove the lobes or the lung itself, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Doctors either cut open the patient’s chest to reach the lungs or conduct a less invasive method with incisions and a camera while the patient is under general anesthesia.
“We’re learning now that if the nodule is small enough, removing the entire lobe isn’t necessary,” Errol L. Bush, a thoracic surgeon and surgical director of the Advanced Lung Disease and Lung Transplant Program at Johns Hopkins, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Especially if the patient is otherwise healthy and not a high-risk surgical candidate.”
According to Bush, excluding post-op complications, the odds of fatality after a lobectomy fall anywhere between 1 and 2 percent. Even lung cancer patients, including older people, can generally tolerate the removal of one entire lung — not to mention workout champions like Ginsberg.
The liberal justice, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has worked with a personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, since her colon cancer diagnosis in 1999, and she once referred to him as the most important person in her life, according to ABC News. In Johnson’s 2017 book The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong … and You Can Too! he shared that Ginsberg often exercises in a shirt that reads, “Super diva.”
Ginsburg has experienced two other diagnoses that were found accidentally as her doctors were investigating other medical issues. Doctors found her colon cancer during an appointment to treat an abdominal infection, reported Vox. And in 2009, her pancreatic cancer diagnosis was found during a routine checkup.
In both cases, says Vox, the “Notorious RBG” didn’t miss a day of work.
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