Ginsburg to Begin 'Precautionary' Chemo

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced today that while her recent surgery for pancreatic cancer was "complete and successful," she will undergo a course of "precautionary, post-surgery" chemotherapy at the National Institutes of Health beginning later this month.

In a statement, Ginsburg , who has not missed a day on the bench since her diagnosis, said her chemotherapy will not interfere with her schedule at the court.

The only female Supreme Court justice, who turned 76 Sunday, recently made cryptic comments regarding potential court retirements when she told an audience that while the court hadn't had any new members for some time, "surely we will soon."

She declined to elaborate.

A senior administration official said on background today that he had "noticed what Justice Ginsburg said" but that the administration knows of no impending vacancy. The official said, "All presidents are prepared all the time for a possible vacancy."

In her statement Ginsburg said she had consulted with her doctors, Eileen O'Reilly and Leonard Saltz of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City, to commence chemotherapy. "Thereafter, it is anticipated that I will require only routine examinations to assure my continuing good health," she said.

Ginsburg has been very public about the details of her illness, which has not stopped her from appearing publicly for speeches and law seminars when the court has been out of session. She has been an aggressive questioner at oral arguments and attended President Obama's speech to Congress last month.

In prior statements Ginsburg has said that her stage 1 cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes.

Ginsburg Already a Cancer Survivor

In 1999, Ginsburg was treated for colon cancer but never missed a day of oral arguments despite aggressive treatments.

Later, she was quoted as saying, "There is nothing like a cancer bout to make one relish the joys of being alive."

Medical experts say Ginsburg was extraordinarily lucky that such a serious cancer was caught at such an early stage. The tumor was found during a routine screening as a follow-up to her earlier cancer.

A tumor of its size is about as small as is detectable by CT scan, said Dr. Paul Lin, a surgical oncologist specializing in pancreatic cancer at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

"She is much more fortunate than most patients, who come in because of symptoms from their cancer," he said.

President Clinton named Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993.

ABC News' Radha Chitale, Joanna Schaffhausen and Dan Childs contributed to this report.

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