Scotland has bucked the UK trend by recording a fall in the number of cancer cases being diagnosed.
Cancer cases are on the rise across the UK as a whole
Researchers have attributed the drop to a decrease in the number of people smoking north of the border.
The Cancer Research UK study found that more than 31,000 people in Scotland developed cancer in the year 2000 - a drop of 4% in three years.
The number of cancer cases rose by 6% in England and 3% in Wales over the same period.
In the UK as a whole, more than 270,000 people were told they had cancer in 2000 - a rise of 3,000 on the previous year.
The study said there was a sharp increase in cases of skin, uterine and prostate cancer and a fall in the diagnosis of stomach and cervical cancer.
The rise was attributed to the fact that Britons are living longer.
Cancer Research UK said Scotland had the highest rates of cancer in the country.
However, it said Scotland was starting to "buck the trend" by recording a reduction in cancer cases.
Smoking rates have been reduced in Scotland
Professor Robert Souhami, director of clinical and external affairs, said: "It's particularly encouraging that Scotland's very high cancer rates are finally starting to come down."
Cancer Research UK said this was largely down to Scotland's success at persuading people to give up smoking.
In the late 70s, almost 50% of all adults in Scotland were smokers. That figure has now fallen to less than a third.
Lung cancer in men has fallen by 15% in the space of five years.
Anti-smoking groups said this evidence highlighted the need for legislation to ban smoking in public places.
First Minister Jack McConnell said on Wednesday that he thought an outright ban might be "impractical".
He said the Scottish Executive would carry out an "open-ended consultation" on the issue.
However, he said there would not be specific proposals for a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.
Mr McConnell said he favoured designating local smoke-free zones.
He added that the fall in cancer cases "cannot be unrelated" to the drop in smoking levels.
Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm welcomed the fall in lung cancer cases.
"Our tobacco action plan will be launched shortly and I hope the measures we will outline will help us maintain the momentum and encourage more people to stop smoking," he said.
However, he said it would take some years before it was known whether the trend would continue.