Numerous publications have stated that metastases are responsible for 90% of cancer deaths, but data underlying this assertion has been lacking. Our objective was to determine what proportions of cancer deaths are caused by metastases. Population-based data from the Cancer Registry of Norway for the years 2005-2015 was analyzed. We compared all deaths in the Norwegian population where a cancer diagnosis was registered as cause of death. Deaths caused by cancer, with and without metastases, were analyzed, by sex and tumor group. For solid tumors, 66.7% of cancer deaths were registered with metastases as a contributing cause. Proportions varied substantially between tumor groups. Our data support the idea that the majority of deaths from solid tumors are caused by metastases. Thus, a better understanding of the biology of metastases and identification of druggable targets involved in growth at the metastatic site is a promising strategy to reduce cancer mortality.