IMAGE: Tony Snow
Gerald Herbert  /  AP
Tony Snow smiles as he is introduced by President Bush as his new press secretary in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on April 26, 2006.
updated 3/23/2007 2:26:30 PM ET 2007-03-23T18:26:30

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow is undergoing surgery Monday to remove a small growth in his lower abdomen, a procedure he said was being done "out of an aggressive sense of caution" because he had colon cancer two years ago.

He said Friday that cancer tests have been negative since the growth — about the size of the tip of his small finger — was discovered in his lower right pelvic area, but that doctors decided to remove it to be sure.

"Please do not leap to conclusions about this because we don't know what this is," Snow told reporters. "We know it's coming out, and I know I'll be back soon."

Snow, 51, had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer. He and his wife have three young children.

The press secretary said he had undergone a series of internal scans, including a PET imaging scan to help doctors see how organs and tissues are functioning. He also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests and CAT scans to generate cross-sectional views and, if needed, three-dimensional images.

These scans revealed the growth. Blood tests and further PET scans have not indicated a return of his cancer.

"Out of an aggressive sense of caution I'm going to go in for surgery," he said.

Snow joked about Monday's surgery, saying he would "come back here a little lighter" than before. It's not a minor procedure, however, and will keep Snow in the hospital for about a week, at home recovering after that and away from the White House for several weeks.

Deputy press secretary Dana Perino will assume Snow's duties in his absence.

The news came a day after Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, announced that her breast cancer has returned in an incurable, but treatable, form. Her husband's campaign will go forward.

"The biggest problem you have sometimes with cancer is flat-out fear," Snow said. "When you see an Elizabeth Edwards saying, `I'm going to embrace life and I'm going to move forward,' that is a wonderful thing."

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