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PVCH outreach surgeon shares colon-cancer facts during special month
Brandon Cunningham, MD

Even though most people know that the early detection of colon cancer is crucial to a patient’s prognosis, Brandon Cunningham, MD, also realizes it is important to give the community a reminder every March, which is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Dr. Cunningham is a general surgeon who visits Pawnee Valley Community Hospital (PVCH), 923 Carroll in Larned, every other week to perform colonoscopies.

“The staff here at Pawnee Valley Community Hospital is great to work with,” Dr. Cunningham said. “They are professionals who genuinely care for their patients. It’s nice to travel to Larned to make life a little easier for those who are scheduled for colonoscopies.”

His main office is at Southwind Surgical at HaysMed.

“A colonoscopy is not only diagnostic it can also prevent colon cancer,” Dr. Cunningham noted. “If polyps are detected during this screening, they are removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer.”

The surgeon understands that patients may be a bit apprehensive about a colonoscopy but assures them “it is a very safe procedure. And since patients are sedated, they do not experience any pain.”

The day before the colonoscopy, the patient consumes prescribed amounts of MiraLAX, Gatorade and magnesium citrate.

“It is important to note that colon cancer often doesn’t result in symptoms,” Dr. Cunningham said. “Nevertheless, in some cases there can be bleeding and/or an obstruction.”

According to the American Cancer Society website, the estimated number of new colon cancer diagnoses in the United States this year will be 106,180. New cases of rectal cancer are estimated at 44,850. 

“With this in mind, we encourage people who have a family history of colon cancer to talk with their physician about when to have their first screening,” Dr. Cunningham advised. “Other risk factors are smoking and inflammatory bowel disease.”

In addition to colonoscopies, he performs endoscopies and procedures associated with skin lesions at PVCH.

Dr. Cunningham graduated from The University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City where he also completed his residency. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery.

Melanie Urban, PVCH administrator, said “it is important to provide preventive surgical services in our community and we are pleased to have such an experienced and talented surgeon as Dr. Cunningham.”

Pawnee Valley Community Hospital, 923 Carroll in Larned, is a 25-bed facility, offering many services not typically available in a smaller facility. Included are 24/7 emergency care; acute, skilled and specialized nursing; surgery; high-tech imaging and laboratory tests; wound care; rehabilitation; and sleep and diagnostic center. PVCH Family Medicine provides the full range of family-medicine services; physician-assisted weight loss; and women’s health services. The hospital’s number is 620-285-3161; the clinic’s number is 620-804-6007.