Colorectal Cancer Screening Among Patients who Receive Medical and Dental Care at an Urban Community Health Center

J Community Health. 2020 Jun;45(3):626-634. doi: 10.1007/s10900-019-00782-y.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates remain subpar, particularly among underserved populations. As the role of health care providers evolves, it has been suggested that dentists could play a larger role in preventive health. Building on this concept, dental visits could serve as an additional touchpoint for CRC screening outreach. The primary goal of this study was to compare CRC screening rates among patients who receive both dental and medical care to those who only receive medical care at an urban community health center in order to inform future CRC screening intervention development. We conducted a retrospective medical and dental record data abstraction of all patients meeting the criteria for CRC screening who had a medical and/or dental appointment within the last 2 years. A total of 1081 eligible patients were identified-250 in the dental and medical group and 831 in the medical only group. The patient population was largely black, female, and publicly insured. Among the dental and medical group patients, 36% were up to date on CRC screening compared to 22% among the medical only group (p < 0.001). In addition, the medical and dental group patients had higher screening rates in all other preventive health measures analyzed (p < 0.001). Despite higher screening rates among patients who received both dental and medical care, overall rates were very low. Further screening outreach is needed in this population, and engaging patients at dental visits may be one approach.

Keywords: Cancer prevention; Colorectal cancer; Community health; Dental care; Screening.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Dental Care
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies