Screening rates for cervical cancer could be improved by the use of home tests for the human papilloma virus (HPV).
This is according to research published in the British Journal of Cancer, which looked at around 3,000 women who had not responded to at least two screening invitations.
Half of these women were sent HPV test kits and the other half were sent another invitation for cervical screening.
Of those who were sent the kits, around ten per cent responded; 6.4 per cent did the self sample while 3.8 per cent booked an appointment to be screened by their nurse or doctor.
Just 4.5 per cent of the second group of women went for a smear test after receiving their third invitation.
Dr Anne Szarewski, lead author of the study and a Cancer Research UK cervical cancer expert, said that it is important to encourage women to take part in screening because they can face a higher risk of cervical cancer if they don't.
"Home testing for HPV is as accurate as samples taken by doctors and can help address some of the reasons, like finding time or being embarrassed, that women often give as reasons for not attending screening," she added.