Current cancer mortality figures are important for disease management and resource allocation. We estimated mortality counts and rates for 2020 in the European Union (EU) and for its six most populous countries.We obtained cancer death certification and population data from the World Health Organization and Eurostat databases for 1970-2015. We estimated projections to 2020 for 10 major cancer sites plus all neoplasms and calculated the number of avoided deaths over 1989-2020.Total cancer mortality rates in the EU are predicted to decline reaching 130.1/100 000 men (-5.4% since 2015) and 82.2 in women (-4.1%) in 2020. The predicted number of deaths will increase by 4.7% reaching 1 428 800 in 2020. In women, the upward lung cancer trend is predicted to continue with a rate in 2020 of 15.1/100 000 (higher than that for breast cancer, 13.5) while in men we predicted further falls. Pancreatic cancer rates are also increasing in women (+1.2%) but decreasing in men (-1.9%). In the EU, the prostate cancer predicted rate is 10.0/100 000, declining by 7.1% since 2015; decreases for this neoplasm are ∼8% at age 45-64, 14% at 65-74 and 75-84, and 6% at 85 and over. Poland is the only country with an increasing prostate cancer trend (+18%). Mortality rates for other cancers are predicted to decline further. Over 1989-2020, we estimated over 5 million avoided total cancer deaths and over 400 000 for prostate cancer.Cancer mortality predictions for 2020 in the EU are favourable with a greater decline in men. The number of deaths continue to rise due to population ageing. Due to the persistent amount of predicted lung (and other tobacco-related) cancer deaths, tobacco control remains a public health priority, especially for women. Favourable trends for prostate cancer are largely attributable to continuing therapeutic improvements along with early diagnosis.