WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush will have a colonoscopy today and temporarily hand presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House said.
Press secretary Tony Snow told reporters Friday that Bush will have the procedure looking for signs of cancer at his Camp David, Md., mountaintop retreat.
He last had such a colorectal cancer check on June 29, 2002.
“As reported at the time and in subsequent physical exams, absent any symptoms, the president’s doctor recommended repeat surveillance in approximately five years,” said Snow, who currently is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. “The president has had no symptoms.”
Two polyps were discovered during examinations in 1998 and 1999, while Bush was governor of Texas. That made Bush a prime candidate for regular examinations. For the general population, a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer is recommended every 10 years. But for people at higher risk or if a colonoscopy detects precancerous polyps, follow-up colonoscopies often are scheduled in three- to five-year intervals.
“Although no polyps were noted in the exam in 2002, age and history would suggest that there’s a reasonable chance that polyps will be noted this time,” Snow said. “If so, they’ll be removed and evaluated microscopically.” Bush is 61.
In a colonoscopy, doctors use a long, flexible tube to visually inspect the colon, looking for both cancer and precancerous growths called polyps.
Snow said results would be available after 48 hours to 72 hours, if not sooner.
The procedure will be supervised by Dr. Richard Tubb, the president’s doctor. It will be done by a team from the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md. Because the president will be under the effects of anesthesia, Bush has elected to implement Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, making Cheney acting president until Bush indicates he is prepared to reassume his authority.
In 2002, Bush transferred presidential powers to Cheney for more than two hours.
During Saturday’s transfer of power, the vice president will be at his home on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Md., about 30 miles east of Washington, Snow said.
The 2002 transfer was only the second time that the Constitution’s presidential disability clause was invoked. President Reagan was the first to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment since its adoption in 1967 as a means of dealing with presidential disability and succession.
The earlier colonoscopy for Bush also was done at the medical facility at Camp David near Thurmont, Md. Bush felt well enough afterward to play with his dogs and take a 4 1/2-mile walk with first lady Laura Bush and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Card’s wife. Bush then went to the gym for a light workout.
The 2002 procedure began at 7:09 a.m and ended at 7:29 a.m. Bush woke up two minutes later but did not resume his presidential office until 9:24 a.m., after Tubb conducted an overall examination. Tubb said he recommended the additional time to make sure the sedative had no aftereffects.
Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. On March 26, he underwent surgery to remove a growth in his abdominal area, and doctors determined that cancer had spread to his liver.