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Doctors remove polyps from Bush's colon

Specialists say five growths not worrisome

President George Bush and his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, walked with first dog Barney yesterday at Camp David, Md. President George Bush and his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, walked with first dog Barney yesterday at Camp David, Md. (ERIC DRAPER/white house via AFP/Getty Images)

CAMP DAVID, Md. -- Doctors removed five small growths from President Bush's colon yesterday after he temporarily transferred the powers of his office to Vice President Dick Cheney under the rarely invoked 25th Amendment.

The polyps, extra tissue growing inside his large intestine, were found during a routine colon cancer scan performed at the Camp David presidential retreat.

"All were less than 1 centimeter (about four- 10ths of an inch) and none appeared worrisome," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said. Outside medical specialists agreed.

The polyps were sent to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to be microscopically examined for signs of cancer. Results were expected in 48 hours to 72 hours. Polyps can turn cancerous, so finding them early is one of the best ways to prevent the disease and improve the odds of surviving it.

"The standard procedure is to remove all polyps that you see," said Dr. David Weinberg, director of gastroenterology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, who was not part of the team at Camp David. "But the majority of polyps taken out that are less than 1 centimeter in size are very unlikely to have cancer in them."

Bush invoked the presidential disability clause of the Constitution at 7:16 a.m. He transferred his authority to Cheney, who was at his home on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Md. Nothing occurred during the 2 hours and 5 minutes of the transfer that required Cheney to take official action, Stanzel said.

First lady Laura Bush was in Midland, Texas, celebrating her mother's birthday. The president spoke with her on the phone before and after the colonoscopy.

Stanzel said the exam was performed under what he called "monitored anesthesia care," not general anesthesia. Under general anesthesia, a patient loses consciousness. Stanzel said Bush was asleep but responsive during the colon check. The medical team stopped administering anesthesia at 7:41 a.m. ; Bush was up 3 minutes later.

During the 31-minute procedure, Bush was sedated with the drug propofol.

"The advantage is that it works faster and wears off considerably faster than the standard agents," Weinberg said. He said some other drugs can leave a person groggy for hours after a colonoscopy.

After the examination, Bush ate breakfast with chief of staff Joshua Bolten, White House counsel Fred Fielding, and national security adviser Stephen Hadley. Bush played with his dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley. He also planned a bike ride around the presidential compound in western Maryland.

"The president was in good humor and will resume his normal activities at Camp David," Stanzel said.

Dr. Richard Tubb, the president's doctor, supervised Bush's colonoscopy, which a team from the Bethesda medical center performed.