Presidential spokesman Tony Snow’s surgery to remove a small growth showed that his cancer has returned and spread to his liver, the White House said Tuesday.
Snow, 51, had his entire colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. A small growth was discovered last year in his lower right pelvic area, and after months of monitoring, tests now show that it has grown slightly. It was removed Monday.
Doctors determined that it was cancerous, and found during the surgery, which was exploratory, that his cancer had metastasized, or spread, to his liver, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
She said Snow is comfortable and feeling fine after his surgery and has pledged to aggressively fight the disease with an as-yet-to-be-determined chemotherapy treatment course. He will be in the hospital recovering from the surgery, a major procedure, for about a week.
“He said he’s going to beat it again,” Perino said in an emotional morning briefing with White House reporters. “When I talked to him, he was in very good spirits.”
Snow spoke with President Bush early Tuesday to deliver the news.
“It is hard news for us,” Perino said. “President and Mrs. Bush and the whole White House team has him in our prayers.”
Blood tests and a PET imaging scan had come back negative for cancer. Snow had announced Friday that he had opted to have the growth removed “out an aggressive sense of caution.”
It is unclear if or when Snow will return to his duties. Perino, the White House’s deputy press secretary, is leading the news briefings in his absence. She said she talked with him Tuesday morning and “he was helping me with talking points,” said Perino, who broke into tears when she announced Snow’s condition.
Perino said Snow also gave her some instructions to pass on to reporters: “Tell them not to bug me.” He also thanked reporters and others for the outpouring of good wishes he has received.
Snow and his wife, Jill, have three young children.
The news came less than a week after Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, announced that her breast cancer has returned in an incurable, but treatable, form. The couple decided that her husband’s campaign will go forward nonetheless.