The rate of Albertans dying from cancer or being diagnosed with the disease is continuing to fall, according to new data from Alberta Health Services.

"The data suggests our public health efforts in areas such as tobacco cessation, sun safety and cancer screening are having a positive effect," said Dr. Paul Grundy, Cancer Care senior vice president and senior medical director, in a release. 

"And the steady reduction in mortality rates is a tribute to the leading-edge care available in the province and the hard work and expertise of our oncologists and the health providers who support them."

Cancer rates have fallen by one per cent each year from 2002 to 2010 in Alberta, with mortality rates falling by 2.8 per cent yearly from 2004 to 2010.

But Grundy says there is still a lot of work to be done.

The new statistics show roughly one in every two Albertans will develop cancer in their lifetime and about one in four Albertans will die from cancer.

The most commonly diagnosed cancers in Alberta in 2010 were breast, prostate, lung and colorectal, which account for 53 per cent of new cancer cases and about half of all cancer deaths.

Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths in both males and females in 2010, causing 1,450 deaths.

The two reports released Monday, to coincide with World Cancer Day, also show the increase in new cancer cases over the past 20 years is mainly because of population growth and an aging population.

AHS wants to reminds Albertans to get regular cancer screening, but also be conscious of how lifestyle choices such as diet, tobacco use, physical activity and time spent in the sun can affect the likelihood of developing certain cancers.

Other cancer-fighting initiatives underway in the province include expanding radiation therapy centres — which are available in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge — to Red Deer and Grande Prairie.

Health officials are also developing a patient navigator system to connect cancer patients to the services they need and plan to rollout the Screening for Distress program, which looks to reduce the distress that many feel when diagnosed with cancer.