The study published online today in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology shows a large drop among the middle-aged population.
The research showed an average 185.2 deaths per 100,000 per year in men between 1990 and 1994.
This fell to 168 deaths between 2000 and 2004.
For women, the number of deaths fell from 104.8 to 96.9 per 100,000.
The researchers said the downward trend is driven largely by changes in tobacco consumption with large falls in lung cancer in men.
Screening, early diagnosis and improved treatment have contributed to the decline in cervical and breast cancer.
Nevertheless, in the early 2000s, there remains a twofold difference in cancer mortality across European countries.
Scotland has the third highest mortality rate for women with 123.1 per 100,000 dying, compared to the highest scoring country, Denmark, which has 141 deaths.
The highest mortality rate for men was in Hungary with 255.2 deaths per 100,000.