A survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) suggests that high costs and lack of awareness are among the factors deterring people from being screened for cancer.
Of 400 respondents, 60 percent had never been screened.
Professor Yeoh Eng-kiong from the CUHK Centre for Health Systems and Policy Research said it's important to spot cancers and receive treatment at an early stage.
"What's important to patients, is not [only] the early detection. But if they have early treatment, it will reduce the mortality rate," he said.
But Yeoh said people might be reluctant to undergo cancer screening because of the high costs involved or possible unpleasant experience.
"Cost is an important factor. For every HK$100 increase in the cost, there will be a reduction of 20 percent of people that will take it up," he said, adding that screening for colorectal cancer, for example, can cost up to HK$1,000.
"Screenings are not things that people like to do, because many people don't want to know. And some of the screening procedures can be quite unpleasant, so many people would be taken aback, and probably don't like to do it, because it's something that is so unfamiliar."
The study also found that respondents are more willing to get screened if the government provides subsidies, and if their family doctor advises them to do so.
Yeoh urged authorities to enhance education on cancer prevention, and work with private practitioners to provide cheaper cancer screening.