Overall cancer deaths have fallen by 16% since Cancer Research UK was established, according to the latest figures from the charity.
In the early 2000s, cancer was said to kill about 310 per 100,000 people in the UK each year – but now it’s around 260.
These factors are said to include improved screening programs, research into more effective treatments, and strategies that could help stop cancers from forming in the first place.
Some cancers, such as cervical cancer, have seen greater declines in death rates cancer A reduction of 33%.
Lung cancer survival rates also doubled. In the mid-2000s, about 10% of people with the disease in England survived at least five years; now the figure is 20%.
Cancer Research UK says this is partly due to the early diagnosis and treatment research it funds.
“The improvement in cancer mortality is the result of broad-based contributions across the research community. But it is clear that the impact of CRUK is an important part of this progress,” the charity said.
Since its inception in February 2002, around £5.4 billion has been invested, involving 3,000 researchers across 350 institutions. It plans to spend at least £1.5bn more on research over the next five years.
Drugs linked to its research are used to treat more than 125,000 patients in England each year, the company said.
“Every penny donated helps revolutionize our understanding of cancer and saves many lives,” said CEO Michelle Mitchell.
However, she said “there is still a long way to go” as cancer targets are still not met and the UK lags behind comparable countries in survival rates.