The death rates for cancer have dropped significantly in the past two decades according to a new study from the American Cancer Society, largely on the backs of new research, better treatment and a more informed and health conscious public.

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The American Cancer Society reports 1.7 million new cases of cancer are projected for 2014. However, the rate of death has fallen from 25 per every 10,000 people in 1991 to 17 per 10,000 in 2010, equating to roughly 1.3 million cancer deaths avoided.

However, the rates haven't fallen equally.  Middle-aged black men have seen the mortality rate from cancer cut in half, while older white women have seen almost no movement.

Lung cancer is still the deadliest for both genders,  but it saw a 34 percent drop in death rate, largely attributed to the decline of smoking in the past two decades.

"If we could just eradicate tobacco, we could get rid of 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancers," said Dr. Arnold Baskies, an oncologist and member of the board of directors with the American Cancer Society.

Baskies said a drop of smoking habits from men in the 1990s helped contribute toward the figures.  Women statistically did not stop smoking until much later.

Prostate cancer was the deadliest for men and breast cancer for women.

While middle-aged black men saw the biggest drop in death rate from cancer, they still have the highest incident of cancer, and the highest death rates overall.

Researchers are also seeing higher instances of death from cancers of the head, neck, anus, liver, pancreas and heart.

Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease.