Shona Robison said reframing the way the disease is viewed goes “hand in hand” with boosting survival rates.
She was speaking on World Cancer Day - a global event in the fight against cancer held every year on February 4.
Ms Robison said: “Thanks to innovation and investment, there are around 176,000 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer over the last 20 years and who are still alive - over double the population of Inverness.
“If we can raise awareness of what is being done to tackle cancer, we’ll hopefully, in time, be able to address the fear people have in seeing their GP or attending their screening appointment.
“The earlier you come forward to get checked or screened, the better, it could save your life.
“We will also shortly be publishing our cancer strategy which will set out a range of deliverables to improve cancer outcomes in Scotland over the next five to 10 years.
“It will include targeted action in prevention, earlier detection and diagnosis, treatment, research, workforce and informatics to support improvements in patient outcomes.
“Based on evidence of what we know needs to be done it will set out a new vision for cancer care in Scotland, putting people at the centre of decision making.”