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Polyps Removed in Examination of Reagan Colon

June 27, 1987|SARA FRITZ | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Reagan had two small polyps removed from his colon Friday during a routine follow-up examination intended to check for any recurrence of his 1985 colon cancer.

Army Col. John Hutton, the President's physician, said that the polyps would be subjected to microscopic analysis, although they are "benign-appearing."

Otherwise, Hutton said, nothing unusual was found during the examination. "The President continues to be in excellent health," he said.

Reagan, 76, has undergone three other colonoscopies since a similar procedure in July, 1985, disclosed the presence of a malignant growth near the top of his colon. In each of these checkups, doctors have discovered and removed small polyps, all of them benign.

The colonoscopy and a routine prostate examination were performed in the White House doctor's office shortly before Reagan and his wife, Nancy, departed for their weekend retreat at Camp David, Md.

The President, dressed in a plaid cowboy shirt and green slacks, walked slowly and stiffly to the helicopter that carried him to Camp David after the exam. He signaled to reporters that he felt OK, however, and then took a tiny skip for the benefit of the television cameras.

Procedure Painful

White House Chief of Staff Howard H. Baker Jr. said that the doctors "had fully expected to find these polyps and fully expect to find them benign." He added that Reagan was in "as good spirits as he could be" after the procedure, which is usually painful.

"This is a hell of a way to start the weekend," Baker quoted Reagan as saying.

Polyps such as those removed from Reagan's colon occur frequently in older people. Unless they are removed, they can grow into serious cancerous lesions such as that discovered in the President's colon in 1985.

A colonoscopy is a probe of the bowel with a fiber-optic instrument. When a polyp is found, a tiny wire loop at the end of the colonoscope is used to snare the growth and clip it off. The wound is then sealed with a coagulating electrical current that runs through the wire.

Previous Checks at Bethesda

All his previous examinations have been conducted at Bethesda Naval Hospital outside Washington.

Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that Reagan's physicians decided to conduct the examination at the White House this time primarily because of convenience. "It could be done quickly and comfortably here, without disrupting the President's schedule," he said.

The President did not have an X-ray or CAT scan, as he has had in connection with this procedure when it was performed at Bethesda.

Other Doctors Present

In addition to Hutton, two other physicians were present at the procedure: Dr. Robert W. Beart, a colon and rectal surgeon from the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Oliver H. Beahrs, a retired Mayo Cli1852400416Reagan's last colonoscopy, is an old friend and associate of Mrs. Reagan's stepfather, the late Dr. Loyal Davis of Chicago.

After Reagan's original cancer surgery two years ago, Dr. Steven Rosenberg, one of the physicians in attendance, estimated that the President had a better than 50% chance of surviving another five years without a cancer recurrence.

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