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White House: Snow's cancer on his liver, not in it

Story Highlights

• White House says cancer growth attached to outside of Tony Snow's liver
• Snow's deputy, Dana Perino, says press secretary "feeling good" after surgery
• White House said earlier Snow's cancer had returned
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The recurrence of cancer found in White House spokesman Tony Snow was attached to his liver, not in the organ, his deputy said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Dana Perino announced that Snow's cancer had returned and spread to his liver.

But she said Wednesday that it was not inside the liver, an important distinction in medical terms.

"Basically the distinction can be, it's growing attached to the outside of the liver or actually within the meat of the liver itself," said Dr. John Kauh, a medical oncologist at Emory University who has not treated Snow.

If the cancer were growing on the outside of the liver, Kauh said, it potentially would be easier to remove surgically.

Perino said that she spoke to Snow on Tuesday afternoon and that he was "feeling good, feeling no pain."

Snow, 51, was treated for colon cancer in 2005, at which time his colon was removed.

Perino said an operation Monday to remove a growth from Snow's abdomen showed that the cancer had returned and had metastasized, or spread, to his liver.

He will consult his doctors about an aggressive plan for treatment that is likely to include chemotherapy, she said Tuesday.

President Bush said Tuesday he had spoken to Snow and told him to "stay strong." (Watch Bush express optimism about Snow Video)

Perino said Wednesday the White House Web siteexternal link has a link for people who want to send well wishes to the spokesman.

Snow's mother died of colon cancer at age 38 in 1973, when he was 17.

Snow told reporters last week that he was having the growth removed but shrugged it off as a precautionary measure.

"We have found a small growth in my lower abdomen. Blood tests are negative [for cancer]. PET scans are negative," he said. "But out of an aggressive sense of caution, I'm going to go in for surgery on Monday and have it removed."

News that Snow would undergo surgery came a day after Elizabeth Edwards, wife of 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, announced her breast cancer had returned in an incurable form. (Full story)

On Friday, Snow commended her for bravery, saying, "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."

John Edwards said Tuesday that he and his wife were praying for Snow, and he returned Snow's kind words: "Tony has been an incredible example for people living with cancer and cancer survivors." (Watch Snow, Elizabeth Edwards talk about what it's like to have cancer return Video)

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