DEATHS from Scotland's four biggest cancer killers have dropped by a quarter in the past two decades, new figures show.

Improved screening and treatments have led to a major improvement in mortality rates for lung, breast, bowel and prostate cancer.

There were 7607 deaths from all four combined from 2010-2012 compared with 7982 from 1991-1993.

However, lung cancer deaths among women have risen in the past 20 years, despite a 23% improvement in mortality rates from Scotland's biggest cancer killer.

Research first revealed the deadly link between smoking and lung cancer 60 years ago which led to falling smoking and mortality rates.

But as smoking rates began to fall later in women than in men, death rates have actually risen in women.

Figures show 2007 women died of the disease from 2010-2012, compared with 1531 from 1991-1993. Male mortality rates have gone from 2134 to 2741.

Cancer Research UK say there has been "little improvement" in the outlook for people diagnosed with lung cancer.

However, breast cancer deaths have fallen by 33% in the past two decades with bowel cancer dropping by 30% and prostate cancer deaths down by 11%.

Improved screening and more effective treatments including drugs have been cited for the improved breast cancer survival rates.

The figures were released today by Cancer Research UK, which is launching a new, 'We Will Beat Cancer Sooner' campaign.

Lisa Adams, the charity's spokeswoman for Scotland, said: "While the death rate for the four biggest cancer killers has fallen, it's vital to remember that we need to do more to help bring even better results over the coming years."