In the last 25 years significant falls in the numbers of people dying from lung, breast and colorectal cancers has been recorded.
The total cancer death toll has reduced by almost 13% since 1986 and the biggest decrease has taken place since the late 1990s.
Analysis of the figures released by the NHS Information Services Division in Scotland show some cancers have increased, such as skin and pancreatic cancer.
However, there has been a reduction in the diseases that kill the most people, with a big fall in the death rate for the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area.
l Lung cancer, which is responsible for the most cancer deaths in west Scotland, has gone down 18% since 1986.
l Colorectal cancers, the second biggest killer, are down 36%.
l Breast cancer, which still kills hundreds, is down 37%.
l Deaths from stomach cancer also dropped 64%, from 271 to 96.
Overall, the drop in all cancers deaths is 12.7%, from 4160 in 1986 to 3628 last year.
Early detection, increased awareness of the risks and signs of cancer, together with better screening and a reduction in smoking, has helped cut deaths.
The figures show lung, breast, stomach, male and female genital organ, and colorectal cancer deaths were all down. However, the number who died from some other cancers that affect fewer people increased.
Liver cancer deaths went up from 35 to 100 over the period, while head and neck and pancreatic cancer deaths also increased, as did those from skin, brain, and oesophageal cancers.
Dr Emilia Crichton, consultant in public health medicine with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said a combination of factors were responsible for the decrease in cancer deaths.
She said: "To see that lung cancer has fallen so much is great news. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking and we have seen a reduction in smoking rates.
"The breast cancer screening programme has been in place for the last 20 years, which leads to early detection. There has also been improvement in treatments, which means more people will survive cancer."
Dr Crichton said people were more aware of the dangers and risks of these cancers and that was playing an important role, but needed to be extended to other cancers.
She added: "We have seen people turning up earlier with symptoms, which makes a difference.
"The main cause of skin cancer is sun exposure and more people have been going to holiday spots for the sun.
"People need to limit their alcohol and lead a generally more healthy lifestyle to reduce their chances of cancer."
The Evening Times has worked in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on campaigns to help reduce smoking and improve health.
Our Clear The Air campaign helped people access smoking cessation services, while Glas-Goals was successful in encouraging tens of thousands of people of all ages to take up physical activity. Glas-goals also helped thousands quit smoking, with the target of 500,000 cigarettes stubbed out.
Glasgow still has a higher rate of cancer per head of population than Scotland overall, but has recorded a far bigger reduction.
The number of cancer deaths in Scotland in 1986 was 14,497, while in 2011 it was 15,375. The rate per head of population has gone from 283.6 per 100,000 to 292.6.
The Scottish Government, however, selected the figure from 2001 to show a reduction over the last decade, where the rate fell from 298.9 per 100,000 people to 292.6.
In the Greater Glasgow area the fall over the decade was from 321.8 to 299.8.
Poverty was also shown to play an important role in the incidence of cancer across Scotland. People in the most deprived areas were more likely to be diagnosed with the disease and less likely to survive than those in more affluent communities.
Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said more action was needed to improve survival rates.
He said: "One in three people will develop cancer during their life but, as these statistics show, earlier diagnosis and better treatment mean the mortality rates are falling.
"But we are determined to do more."
Jackie Baillie, Labour's health spokeswoman, said the cancer death figures were the second highest in Scotland since 1986.
She said: "It shows how much more we still have to do to tackle the underlying causes of premature death, which remain far too prevalent."