Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery for colon cancer on Sept. 17, was discharged from Washington Hospital Center yesterday and is recuperating at home.

Her physicians said the disease was at "stage 2," which means it had invaded the muscular wall of the colon but had not spread to nearby lymph nodes.

The prognosis for such patients is much better than for those whose cancer has grown large enough to cause abdominal pain, as initially appeared to be the case with Ginsburg.

Ginsburg did some work during her hospitalization. She participated, by phone or with written comments, in the court's review Monday of hundreds of appeals that had come in during the summer and resulted in its announcement yesterday of several new cases for the 1999-2000 term.

Last summer, Ginsburg was diagnosed with diverticulitis after suffering severe abdominal pain while teaching in Crete.

In a brief press release yesterday, the court said, "Extraordinarily, the severe abdominal inflammation . . . was unrelated to her colon cancer. It did, however, lead to discovery of the tumor."

Ginsburg's surgeon, Lee Smith, found evidence of an earlier perforation of the colon in a different section of the organ than that affected by cancer, which was in the sigmoid colon, just above the rectum.

The tumor measured about an inch in diameter, according to the court statement.

Surgery is the main treatment for colon cancer, and Ginsburg had her sigmoid colon removed. It is unclear whether chemotherapy after surgery is beneficial for patients with stage 2 of the disease.