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Bush has polyps removed in routine cancer test

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush had five polyps removed during a routine colon cancer test on Saturday, but his doctors described them as small and apparently not worrisome, the White House said.

In this file photo, U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and Vice President Dick Cheney sit in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, June 14, 2007. Bush temporarily handed his powers to Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday morning while he was sedated for a routine colon cancer test at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., the White House said. REUTERS/Jim Young

The polyps, all less than one centimeter (0.4 inch), will be tested to determine whether there are any signs of cancer and the results are expected to be available within 48 hours to 72 hours, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters.

“None appeared worrisome,” he said, citing the president’s doctors. The president “was in very good spirits and in good humor and looks forward to returning to his activities.”

Bush was planning to take a bicycle ride later on Saturday afternoon after participating in briefings with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and eating lunch with them, Stanzel said.

Bush, 61, transferred his presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney for just over two hours while he had the colonoscopy and recovered. He was sedated during the 31-minute procedure at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

Stanzel said Cheney spent the morning reading at his home on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and “nothing occurred that required him to take official action as acting president.”

At 7:16 a.m. EDT Bush invoked Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to voluntarily transfer his powers of the presidency to Cheney while he was unable to discharge his duties during the colonoscopy procedure.

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He reclaimed his powers at 9:21 a.m. EDT, Stanzel said. Bush is expected to return to the White House on Sunday.

The amendment has only been invoked twice before, once by Bush in 2002 for the same procedure which lasted for two hours and 15 minutes and once by then-President Ronald Reagan in July 1985 when he had colon cancer surgery.

A colonoscopy is routine for a person of Bush’s age. Roughly 2 million Americans undergo one each year, which is designed to reduce the chances of colon cancer -- the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

“Five (polyps) is a bigger number than you’d like to see, it’s certainly not a daunting number,” said Dr. Jerry Wishner, director of colon and rectal surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.

While not involved with Bush’s test, Wishner said the small size of the polyps was a positive sign but the president would most likely have to undergo another colonoscopy in a year.

Bush’s test in 2002 revealed no medical problems, but he had benign polyps removed twice from his colon before becoming president, two in July 1998 and two in December 1999.

More than 52,000 Americans are expected to die this year from colorectal cancer and more than 153,000 will be diagnosed with the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Nearly all cases begin as benign polyps but can later develop into cancer.

The president is an avid fitness buff with a competitive streak and tries to take a few hours each week to go mountain biking, often with members of his staff. He also does elliptical training, free-weights, stretching and low-impact workouts on a treadmill.

After developing knee problems a few years ago, he gave up running and mountain biking became his favorite sport.