Image: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Kevin Wolf  /  AP file
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in February.
updated 9/25/2009 12:54:17 PM ET 2009-09-25T16:54:17

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, made a quick return to work Friday after feeling ill at the office and spending the night in a Washington hospital as a precaution.

The 76-year-old justice was released from Washington Hospital Center in the morning and was at her desk by early afternoon, the court said.

Ginsburg became lightheaded in her office Thursday afternoon after receiving treatment for anemia. Although she was found to be stable after an examination, the court said she was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in February followed by a round of chemotherapy.

A common side effect of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer is anemia.

The latest health episode apparently began with an iron sucrose infusion that Ginsburg received to treat an iron deficiency anemia that had been discovered in July.

About an hour later, she "developed lightheadedness and fatigue," a court statement said. She was found to have a slightly low blood pressure, which the court said can occur after the type of treatment she received.

The July evaluation found "that she was in completely normal health with the exception of a low red blood cell count caused by deficiency of iron. Intravenous iron therapy was administered in a standard fashion," the court statement said.

Doctors on Feb. 5 removed a small, malignant growth from Ginsburg's pancreas. Doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the court said at the time. Her spleen also was removed.

She returned to work quickly and hasn't missed a day of work since. In March she said the operation had been "a complete, successful, surgical removal" of the cancer. However, she also said she was to undergo chemotherapy treatment.

Two months after her surgery, Ginsburg told law students at a symposium at Ohio State University that serving on the Supreme Court was "the best and the hardest job I've ever had." She said she wanted to match the tenure of Justice Louis Brandeis, who served for more than two decades and retired at age 82.

Ginsburg spent part of this past summer the way she usually does, teaching in Europe. This year's class was in Rome.

After the retirement in January 2006 of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Ginsburg was the only woman on the nine-member court until Sonia Sotomayor joined the court last August.

Nominated by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg took her seat on the Supreme Court on Aug. 10, 1993. She had been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1980.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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