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Cheney in charge during Bush colonoscopy
President Bush will have a routine colonoscopy tomorrow and temporarily hand presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney, the White House said.
Press secretary Tony Snow told reporters today that Mr. Bush will have the procedure at his Camp David mountaintop retreat.
He last had such a colorectal cancer check 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," Mr. Snow said. "The president has had no symptoms."
Two polyps were discovered during examinations in 1998 and 1999, while Mr. Bush was governor of Texas. That made Mr. 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," Mr. Snow said. "If so, they'll be removed and evaluated microscopically." Mr. Bush is 61.
Mr. 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. Because the president will be under the effects of anesthesia, Mr. Bush has elected to implement Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, making Mr. Cheney acting president until Mr. Bush indicates he is prepared to reassume his authority.
In 2002, Mr. Bush transferred presidential powers to Mr. Cheney for more than two hours.
During the 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, Mr. 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.
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