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Pope Leaves Hospital Bed Again, Vatican Defends Treatment

July 17, 1992

ROME (AP) _ Pope John Paul II got up from his hospital bed again today, and Italy’s health minister assured the faithful they no longer had any reason to fear for the pontiff’s health following surgery to remove a colon tumor.

Doctors said the 72-year-old pontiff was making an excellent recovery from the nearly four-hour operation Wednesday, and no further medical bulletins were scheduled until Saturday.

John Paul’s temperature returned to normal this morning following a slight fever Thursday afternoon, which was to be expected after such major surgery, said the pope’s cardiologist, Dr. Attilio Maseri.

Doctors said the pope got out of bed, took a few steps and sat in a chair in his 10th-floor hospital room.

Italy’s health minister, Dr. Francesco De Lorenzo, met with the pope’s doctors and later told reporters: ″Those who have been worried about the pope no longer have reason to do so.″

Two initial biopsies indicated the orange-sized tumor was benign, and pathologists were conducting further tests for signs of any cancer cells. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro said the tests would be completed early next week.

Surgeons also removed the pope’s gall bladder Wednesday after finding stones in it.

On Thursday, Navarro defended the pope’s medical care against suggestions that the colon tumor should have been detected earlier. Navarro said the pontiff had underwent periodic medical tests.

″The medical attention the holy father has been provided ... has been completely adequate,″ Navarro told reporters. ″Nothing was left out.″

Chief surgeon Francesco Crucitti said the pope had underwent periodic tests for blood in the stool, which can indicate the presence of a colon tumor. All were negative, he said.

However, he told Italy’s state-run RAI television that John Paul in past years had not undergone ″invasive procedures.″ This appears to indicate the pope did not undergo a colon test known as a flexible sigmoidoscopy that the U.S. National Cancer Institute recommends every three to five years for men over 50, to check for tumors like the pope’s.

The test involves using a flexible tube to examine the colon, said Dr. Gerald Murphy, chief medical officer for the U.S. federal agency. Crucitti said such tests were done only on suspicion of illness.

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