Death rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer – which account for half of all cancer deaths in the UK – have fallen by almost a third in the last 20 years, figures show.
Cancer Research UK, which has released the data, said the findings show that ground-breaking research has had a “powerful impact” in beating the disease.
Between 1991 and 1993, 146 people out of every 100,000 could have expected to die from one of the so-called “big four” cancers, but by 2010 to 2012 these figures dipped to 102 out of every 100,000.
For breast cancer the death rate fell by 38% during this time frame while bowel cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer dipped by 34%, 27% and 21% respectively.
Improvements in treatments and care, routine screening and earlier diagnosis are thought to have contributed to the reduction in breast , bowel and prostate cancer deaths.
While death rates in lung cancer have fallen, the charity warned that there has little improvement in the outlook for those who are diagnosed with the disease.
It has pledged to improve lung cancer mortality through earlier diagnosis and trials for improved treatments.
Mortality rates in other cancers, including liver, pancreatic, melanoma, oral and some digestive cancers, have increased, the charity said.
“Research continues to help save lives from cancer, and these figures offer renewed encouragement that progress continues,” said Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Harpal Kumar.
“The UK remains a world leader in cancer research, responsible for many of the breakthroughs that have reduced the impact of cancer. But while the death rate for the four biggest cancer killers falls, it’s vital to remember that more needs to be done to help bring even better results over the coming years.
“There are over 200 different forms of the disease. For some of these, the advances are less impressive, such as pancreatic, oesophageal and liver cancer.
“Far too many lives continue to be affected by the disease.
“We’re determined that the research we fund will help save more lives, developing better, kinder treatments which will beat cancer sooner.”