Snow's Colon Cancer Spreads to Liver
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; 8:36 PM
WASHINGTON -- Presidential spokesman Tony Snow's cancer has returned and spread to his liver and elsewhere in his body, shaken White House colleagues announced Tuesday. They said he told them he planned to fight the disease and return to work.
"He is not going to let this whip him, and he's upbeat," President Bush said of his press secretary. "And so my message to Tony is, 'Stay strong; a lot of people love you and care for you and will pray for you.'"
Snow, 51, had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent surgery on Monday to remove a growth in his abdominal area, near the site of the original cancer.
Doctors determined the growth was cancerous and the cancer had metastasized, or spread, to the liver.
The cancer has attached to the liver but is not in the liver, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.
The news rocked the White House. Snow had gone into the surgery saying he felt fine, and recent blood tests and imaging scans had indicated no return of cancer. He had said he opted to remove the growth out of "aggressive sense of caution."
A former radio and TV commentator, Snow brought his star power and camera-ready charm to a beleaguered White House last May. He quickly became the public face of Bush's daily communications and has spoken openly _ and emotionally _ about being a cancer survivor.
He had recently reached the two-year mark of being free of cancer.
"He told me that he beat this thing before," said Perino, "and he intends to beat it again."
It is common for colon cancer patients to suffer a recurrence of cancer, and the most common site is the liver. Medical experts say advances in chemotherapy can allow people with the type of cancer Snow has to return to work and good health for years.
But experts declined to speculate on Snow specifically because many details of his condition are unknown. Among the unanswered questions are how far the cancer spread, how extensive the cancer affecting his liver is, and whether the cancer can be surgically removed if it hasn't been already.
"This is a very treatable condition," said Dr. Allyson Ocean, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Many patients, because of the therapies we have, are able to work and live full lives with quality while they're being treated. Anyone who looks at this as a death sentence is wrong."