The overall rate of African-American deaths from cancer is declining, according to an American Cancer Society report out today — and African-American men are seeing the fastest decline than any other group.

“We see the disparity between Black and White men narrowing,” says Carol DeSantis, epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the report.

According to DeSantis, this drop in deaths — from 2000 to 2009 — is mostly due to lower rates of lung cancer and directly correlates to less cigarette smoking. DeSantis and her colleagues estimate that nearly 200,000 cancer deaths were averted.

However, despite these gains, African-American men are still being diagnosed with cancer 15 percent more than White men and dying more. African-American women are less likely to develop most cancers, but they too are dying more than White women.

“With African-American women, it’s really upsetting,” DeSantis says. “They have lower rates of breast cancer, but they are more likely to die from the disease. It’s just unacceptable.”