More people died of cancer last year in Northern Ireland than ever before.
There were 4,018 deaths from the disease, according to the statistics and research agency.
Treatment and diagnosis were improving but were masked by the ageing population, which is more susceptible to the illness, said a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry.
He said: "A lot of that increase would be down to the fact that the population is growing older. The more people you have in that group, the more people are contracting the diseases."
He added that there had been increases in the incidence of breast and colorectal cancers but early diagnosis was the key to survival and great medical progress had been made.
"If you take account of the fact that the population is ageing, the underlying mortality rates are falling. There is progress being made with regard to survival," he said.
"Cancer survival would be strongly related to how early you are diagnosed with it. If diagnosed very late, the chances of survival are very small."
He said that in some cancers survival rates could be as high as 90% if detected early.
The findings came from provisional mortality statistics released by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).
Last year saw the lowest overall death rate yet: 14,500 were registered in Northern Ireland. Cancer, ischaemic heart disease and stroke accounted for more than half of all deaths last year.