According to research in the European Journal of Cancer, half of people in England sent a home-testing kit for bowel cancer in 2015 did not use it.
Cancer Research UK said people were missing out on a test that could reduce their risk of dying from bowel cancer by up to 25%.
The charity said it hoped a new screening test (FIT) already in the pipeline for introduction in England would lead to more people choosing to take up the opportunity. The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is easier to use because it requires only one stool sample instead of three. And it is more accurate at detecting potential cancers.
It was recently announced that bowel cancer screening in England would start 10 years earlier, at age 50, to allow more cancers to be picked up earlier.
Dr Christian von Wagner, lead researcher from UCL who conducted the uptake study, said: “The fact fewer and fewer people are returning their kits and that inequalities in the system are widening is very worrying. There is an urgent need to revolutionise bowel cancer screening because the earlier cancer is spotted, the more lives can be saved.”
He said research had shown that the new FIT test could increase uptake by 7%.
Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said:
“Our bowel cancer screening programme is extremely effective at detecting early disease before symptoms show themselves, so it’s very concerning that so many people are missing out on this potential health benefit.”
“The sooner it (FIT) is introduced and made available to everyone eligible the better.”
Read the full BBC News article here.