Death rates from breast, bowel and lung cancer are lower than at any other time since 1971, figures show.
The 40-year low in the number of people dying from breast, bowel and male lung cancer comes as number of people developing cancer is on the rise due to the fact that people live longer than ever before.
But improved screening and better treatments mean fewer people are dying from the disease, while campaigns encouraging smokers to quit have led to a fall in lung cancer deaths.
In 1989, breast cancer deaths among women peaked at 15,625. But data from Cancer Research UK show this plunged 36% to 11,990 by 2007.
According to the figures, bowel cancer deaths among both sexes peaked in 1992 at 19,598, but fell 31% to 16,007 in 2007.
Meanwhile, 2007 saw a massive drop in the number of men dying of lung cancer, from its 1979 peak of 30,391, to 19,637 this century.
Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Years of research are behind the dramatic progress being made in the fight against Britain’s common cancers.
‘Survival rates have doubled in the last 30 years and the work of Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of that progress.’