Survey on Cancer Patient Care in Switzerland

Survey on cancer care in Switzerland: Good ratings—But some work to do

19. Mai 2022

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Cancers pose a major challenge not only for those affected but also for the health care system. MSD has worked with the research institute gfs.bern to create a representative survey, the first of its kind, to take a detailed look at public opinion regarding the quality of cancer care in Switzerland. The survey showed that there is clearly broad approval of the care currently being offered, but did, however, identify opportunities for improvement in pre- and post-treatment care.  

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (2021), there are more than 40,000 new cancer diagnoses in Switzerland each year, with one in five people falling ill with cancer before the age of 701. The good news: New cases do appear to be leveling off somewhat 1. Moreover, fewer people are dying from cancers than before1. Accordingly, there is an increasing number of people in Switzerland who are either living with cancer or have beaten it. They should all be receiving the best possible care. Apart from the actual medical treatment they receive, this care also includes preventive and follow-up care, as well as social and psychological support. A wide-ranging representative survey commissioned by MSD and conducted by gfs.bern aimed to find out how the Swiss public perceives the quality of cancer care.

Good Ratings for Cancer Patient Care

First of all, the Swiss public takes an active interest in health care policy. For example, over 80 percent of those surveyed said that they were interested in health care issues. Almost 90 percent viewed the quality of the care provided to cancer patients as either good, very good, or excellent. This positive endorsement was even clearer among those personally affected by cancer, with an approval rating of 95 percent. The personal experiences of those receiving treatment for their disease underline the value of this extraordinarily good rating. The key factors were primarily the good health care system in Switzerland, the broad range of services offered, the good care provided by staff, the quality of the facilities, access to treatment, and the ease of information sharing. Survey respondents rated their hospital experiences particularly highly. Thus, about 80 percent of survey subjects expressed a favorable opinion regarding the care provided by doctors and nurses in hospitals, while a substantial majority were also satisfied with the medications used for treatment. Only a few respondents found fault with the treatments provided or the quality of care. The overwhelming majority (85%) would choose their selected treatment pathway again.

Action Required on Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis

However, the survey also clearly shows that some areas require further action. Of all those surveyed, about 15 percent were dissatisfied with early cancer detection, with the same percentage dissatisfied with cancer prevention and coordination. One in five would have been happy to see family members acting as caregivers receive better support. Nearly one quarter of all respondents could also conceive that psychological support for patients and their families could be better. Among those personally impacted by cancer, the number who would have liked earlier information about prevention was as high as 36 percent. About half of them were unhappy about the time of diagnosis. Thus, 47 percent would have been happier if their cancer had been detected earlier. The COVID-19 pandemic also left its mark. For example, treatments constantly needed to be postponed. While almost half of patients were satisfied with the services provided by the specialists treating them, some family members felt that adequate medical care was lacking during the pandemic.

Conversely, the considerable efforts undertaken to research cancer were appreciated by the Swiss public. In the survey, a clear majority of 57 percent had faith in the progress being made in cancer research over the past five years (often, however, without being able to describe this progress in more detail), while only a quarter of those surveyed believed that there had been no or hardly any scientific discoveries recently. Over half of respondents were also optimistic about cancers being completely curable in the future.

Calls for a New Cancer Strategy

Only a few of those surveyed were aware of the “National Anti-Cancer Strategy,” including those who were affected by cancer themselves. Having been told about it, most did, however, state that a new national cancer initiative was important to them. Switzerland is currently the only European country without a national cancer strategy. Seventy-two percent of the respondents would participate in any possible consultations about this kind of legal initiative. A new national cancer initiative could count on a high level of approval, especially among women, people with a strong interest in health policy, and those personally affected by cancer. Almost all of those surveyed believed that a cancer initiative could save money in the long term and that early cancer detection and prevention should be supported, but also that coordination between the actors involved and the care provided to those affected by cancer are in need of improvement. However, most respondents did not believe that cancer had any special role in comparison to the many other serious illnesses that affect people. Thus, according to the majority of those surveyed, cancers should not be given any special status in the constitution.

The Survey

The representative survey on cancer patient care in Switzerland was commissioned by MSD and conducted by gfs.bern and involved the detailed questioning of 1,510 randomly selected people throughout Switzerland via an online questionnaire or telephone interview at the end of last year (November/December 2021). Three quarters of subjects reported that a person close to them, or at least an acquaintance, had been or was currently affected by cancer. In total, eleven percent (136 people) had had personal experience with cancer themselves, while three percent were suffering from cancer at the time of the survey. The patients had undergone surgery (76%), or had received chemotherapy (32%), radiation therapy (29%), targeted therapy (18%), hormone therapy (15%), alternative therapy (14%), or immunotherapy (11%). Nine out of ten sufferers reported that they had generally complied with the treatment requirements.

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Understanding Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer is a collective term for various cancers of the kidney. The most common is renal cell carcinoma.

12. April 2022

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Every year, around 1000 people in Switzerland are newly diagnosed with kidney cancer. About two thirds of them are men. Almost half of the patients are over 70 years old at the time of diagnosis. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is by far the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for about 90% of all kidney cancer cases. It is typically diagnosed by accident, for example during imaging tests for another disease, as symptoms usually only appear at an advanced stage. Most kidney tumors are discovered in their early stages. Nevertheless, around 30% of patients present with metastatic kidney cancer at the time of initial diagnosis. Of these patients, only 15% are still alive after 5 years. Thanks to recent advances in oncology, the treatment options for renal cell carcinoma have changed significantly. Today several treatment options are available to increase the survival rate of these patients.

Incidence of kidney cancer


In Switzerland, around 700 men and 300 women are newly diagnosed with kidney cancer and about 300 people die of it every year.


Worldwide, more than 430’000 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed and nearly 180’000 people died of it in 2020.

Signs and symptoms

Early kidney cancers usually do not cause any signs or symptoms, but larger ones might.

Some possible signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include:

  • blood in the urine
  • low back pain on one side (not caused by injury)
  • a mass (lump) on the side or lower back
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss not caused by dieting
  • fever that is not caused by an infection and that doesn’t go away
  • anemia (low red blood cell counts).

Risk Factors

Multiple risk factors for RCC have been identified. It is believed that several factors are jointly responsible for the development of kidney cancer. Smoking and obesity are considered to be possible main risk factors.

Other risk factors include:

  • high blood pressure
  • family history of kidney cancer
  • workplace exposures: many studies have suggested that workplace exposure to certain substances, such as trichloroethylene , increases the risk for RCC.
  • gender (men are more likely affected than women)
  • certain medicines: some studies have suggested that acetaminophen, a common pain medicine, may be linked to an increase in the risk of RCC.
  • genetic and hereditary risk factors


In many cases, the cause of kidney cancer is not known. In some other cases (such as with inherited conditions), even when the cause is known it may not be preventable. You may reduce the risk for developing kidney cancer by stopping to smoke and maintaining a healthy body weight.

CH-NON-00633, 04/2022

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor in the breast that mainly affects women. How the disease develops depends on various factors. Breast cancer treatment can be highly effective, particularly when the disease is identified early. On this page, you can learn more about the different types, symptoms, diagnosis, risk factors and prevention, as well as treatment options.

31 March 2022

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In Switzerland, around 6,300 women and 50 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, a malignant tumor in the breast, every year. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and accounts for almost one third of all cancer diagnoses. The rate of disease increases with age. Nevertheless, a quarter of all patients are younger than 50 at the time of diagnosis. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed, affecting more than 2.3 million people. The pink ribbon is an unmistakable symbol of solidarity and commitment in the fight against breast cancer. Because early detection of this cancer is particularly important for the chances of cure.

Types of breast cancer

There are many different types of breast cancer. Most breast cancers are carcinomas. These are tumors that develop in the epithelial cells that line organs and tissues throughout the body. In medicine, breast cancer is called mammary carcinoma (from Latin mamma “breast, female mammary gland”).

Ductal breast carcinoma

  • starts mainly in the cells of the milk ducts
  • is the most common type of breast cancer, accounting for about 50-80% of all cases.

Lobular breast carcinoma

  • arises in the milk-producing glands (lobules)
  • accounts for 5-15% of breast cancers.

In-situ or invasive breast cancer

The type of breast cancer can also be distinguished by whether or not the tumor has spread or not.

  • In-situ breast cancer: is a pre-cancer. It is confined to its site of origin and has not yet spread to the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Invasive breast cancer: the tumor has already spread into surrounding breast tissue. There is a risk of metastases spreading to other tissues and organs.

Receptor status of breast cancer

In breast cancer, the receptor status is also taken into account. It tells whether the tumor is hormone-sensitive and how fast it grows.

HR status means hormone receptor status. It indicates whether a tumor has binding sites for the hormones estrogen and/or progesterone. If the cancer cell has one or both of the receptors, it is called hormone receptor positive or HR+).

HER2 is a protein that helps breast cancer cells grow quickly. Breast cancer cells with higher than normal levels of HER2 are called HER2-positive.

Ki-67 is a protein in cells that increases as they prepare to divide into new cells. The so-called Ki-67 proliferation index indicates how fast a tumor grows.   

HR-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer
This is the most common type of breast cancer by receptor status, accounting for approximately 70%.Tumor cells have hormone-binding sites but not increased levels of growth factor receptors.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)
TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer that  accounts for about 10-15%  of all breast cancers. The term “triple-negative” refers to the fact that the cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors and do not produce an increased amount  of HER2. TNBC often affects younger women.

There are other types of breast cancers that start to grow in other types of cells in the breast and are much less common.

Stetoscope and pink ribbon on the table

Symptoms of breast cancer

Breast cancer is often not discovered until the tumor is large enough to palpate. Often, those affected do not experience any symptoms until that time.

Possible signs of breast cancer:

  • painless lump or hardened area in the breast
  • sudden inflammation or redness of the breast
  • sudden dimpling or bulging of the skin, especially in the nipple area
  • the nipple is inflamed
  • the breast suddenly becomes larger
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and below and above the collarbone
  • unintentional weight loss


Breast cancer can be detected by mammography, an X-ray examination of the breast. The definitive diagnosis is made by means of biopsy, the removal of a tissue sample.

Risk factors

Possible risk factors for breast cancer include:

  • Gender: being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer
  • Age: older women are more likely to develop the disease than younger women
  • Family history: if family members have breast cancer, the risk of disease increases
  • Genetics: if gene mutations are present
  • Hormonal factors: e.g. first menstruation before the age of 12, last menstruation after the age of 55; birth of the first child after the age of 30 or many years of combined hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms
  • Radiation therapy: e.g., if the upper body has been irradiated for another cancer
  • Obesity, alcohol and smoking.

Prevention and early detection

In addition to the preventive checkup at the gynecologist, every woman should palpate her breast regularly to notice changes.

For women over 50, mammography is recommended to detect breast cancer at an early stage.

Breast cancer treatment

Today, significantly fewer women die from breast cancer than twenty years ago. This is due to improved early detection and new and more advanced therapies. Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapies, radiotherapies, anti-hormone therapies, immunotherapies and targeted therapies. Often, different types of therapy are combined.

The earlier breast cancer is detected and treated, the better the chances of cure.

CH-NON-01561, 02/2022


Cervical cancer – what you should know

Cervical cancer is a rather rare disease in Switzerland. It can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and managed effectively. Most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented by HPV vaccination and other preventive measures like screening for, and treating precancerous lesions. Learn more here.

31 March 2022

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In Switzerland, around 250 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, around 70 die of it every year. The rate of new cases increases between the ages of 25 and 44. This makes cervical cancer the thirteenth most common cancer in women in Switzerland. In 2020, more than 600,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and more than 340,000 women died from the disease.

Origin and forms of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer develops in almost all cases from the surface cells on the cervix or from the glandular cells of the cervix. In technical language, cervical cancer is therefore called “cervical carcinoma” (Latin cervix = neck).

The cervix is made of two parts and is covered with two different types of cells.

  • The endozervix is the opening of the cervix that leads into the uterus. It is covered with glandular cells.

  • The exozervix (or ectocervix) is the outer part of the cervix that can be seen by the doctor during an exam. It is covered in squamous cells.

The place where these two cell types meet in the cervix is called the transformation zone. The exact location of the transformation zone changes as you get older and if you give birth. Most cervical cancers begin in the cells in the transformation zone.

Pre-cancers of the cervix

The normal cells of the cervix first gradually develop abnormal changes that are called “pre-cancerous”. It is possible that a precancerous stage will develop into cervical cancer. It is therefore important to have precancerous lesions checked regularly and treated if necessary.

Types of cervical cancer

Cervical cancers and cervical pre-cancers are classified by how they look in the lab s with a microscope. The main types of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

  • Squamous cell carcinomas develop from cells in the exocervix and most often begin in the transformation zone.
  • Adenocarcinomas develop from the mucus-producing gland cells of the endocervix.

Less commonly, there are adenosquamous carcinomas or mixed carcinomas that have features of both types.

Symptoms of cervical cancer

Precancerous lesions of the cervix usually do not cause any symptoms. Symptoms often appear only in advanced stages. These may include the following:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding (bleeding after intercourse, bleeding after menopause, bleeding between periods).
  • Bad-smelling discharge from the vagina
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • unexplained weight loss

The above-mentioned complaints may also have other causes. Nevertheless, if one or more symptoms are present, a doctor should be consulted.

Risk factors

The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). This accounts for around 99% of all cases. HPV are extremely common and are transmitted through sexual contact.

Other possible risk factors include:

  • sexual activity at a young age
  • many sexual partners
  • a partner who is considered a high-risk partner (someone with HPV infection or with many sexual partners)
  • smoking
  • weakened immune system
  • long-term use of the contraceptive pill

Prevention through vaccination

Teenagers and young adults can protect themselves against the most dangerous types of HPV vaccine.

The vaccination is intended to reduce the risk of contracting dangerous HPV. In Switzerland, HPV vaccination is free of charge for all adolescents and young adults between the ages of 11 and 26 as part of cantonal vaccination programs.

Early detection

The best way for early detection is regular screening by the gynecologist through Pap test (taking cells from the cervix, which are examined in the laboratory for cancer and precancerous lesions) and/or HPV test (looking in cervical cells for parts of the DNA of HP viruses that are most likely to cause cervical cancer).


Cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and best supportive care.

CH-NON-00150, 12/2021

We are a Top Employer!

For the 10th time in a row, our company has received the "Top Employer" award. The award recognizes the variety of benefits that MSD offers to its employees, such as a newly introduced working-from-home policy or the generous parental leave for mothers and fathers of 16 weeks.

20 January 2022

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Every year, the independent Top Employers Institute  certifies organizations that are focused on putting their employees first and provide an attractive workplace environment that encourages professional and personal development. The certification is based on the participation and results of the HR Best Practices Survey. Important factors for winning the Award include above-average ratings in:

  • Human Resources Management
  • Compensation and social security
  • Career opportunities
  • Working conditions
  • Training and continuing education, and
  • Corporate culture.

MSD achieved excellent results in all survey categories

Employee engagement, including well-being, and recognition and rewards were rated as above average. One more top scorer is the area of Unity, which is comprised of Ethical Integrity, Values, Diversity & Inclusion and Work environment.

Judeke Frederiks
Judeke Frederiks, HR Director Switzerland

“We are honored to be recognized as a Top Employer in Switzerland once again. The 10th award we received underlines our ongoing commitment to creating flexible working conditions and an attractive workplace. We are proud to be above benchmark in many areas, especially in employee well-being – evaluations that are crucial in the best of times and even more important during the actual unprecedented times of the ongoing pandemic.”

Employee benefits

Since 2020, all new parents, regardless of gender, are offered 16 weeks with 100% pay within the first 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child. This policy is one of the most generous and inclusive in Switzerland, compared to the two weeks that have been legally required in Switzerland. In the same year, MSD instituted a new policy giving full flexibility to employees and their managers to determine how much they work remotely. In addition, MSD has put increased emphasis on working in digital ways becoming a more agile organization and more focused on growth and learning.

Diversity and inclusion are important to us

MSD actively promotes diversity and inclusion, for example through the many internal networks like the Womenʼs Network, the Next Generation Network and the LGBTQI Network. The mentioned initiatives are important milestones in line with its commitment to diversity, inclusion and well-being. More importantly, it reflects the company values understanding on how to achieve the best possible balance between private life, family, and career.

Want to know more about us and MSD as a company?

Read our stories!

CH-NON-01563, 02/2022

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Our commitment

Pulmonary hypertension

Every single life motivates us, day after day, to give our best.

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare chronic disease that can be life-threatening if left untreated. At MSD, we are committed to people who are affected by this disease.

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a chronic disease characterised by increased blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation. It may lead to a significant impairment of physical capacity and can be life-threatening if left untreated. There are various treatment options that aim to alleviate symptoms, stop progression of the disease and maintain the highest possible quality of life.

Find out more

Our commitment in the area of pulmonary hypertension

For over

years committed to improving the lives of patients in Switzerland

In the year

introduction of the first soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator for PH in Switzerland

Active since

in longstanding partnerships and projects

Our partnerships and projects

Collaboration with the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Pulmonale Hypertonie [Swiss Society for Pulmonary Hypertension] (SGPH)

The SGPH is panel of experts that for more than 20 years has bundled all findings about pulmonary hypertension into one efficient network. We have supported the SGPH for years in different projects and initiatives.

Cooperation with patient organisations

We have been involved for years in collaborative partnerships with patient organisations and the Swiss PH Society for people with pulmonary hypertension.

Continuing education events and conferences

MSD regularly takes part in the conference of the Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Pneumologie [Swiss Society for Pulmonology] (SGP) and supports continuing education events for physicians in order to help clarify pulmonary hypertension and its treatment.

Clinical Research

For almost 130 years, we have conducted research worldwide to contribute to better health for our society with our medications and vaccines, for today and future generations. In Switzerland, MSD is currently conducting 34 clinical studies in different areas of therapy (as of 11/2021).

Find out more

Information and education

Especially in November, during Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month, and on 5 May, World Pulmonary Hypertension Day, we raise awareness of the disease and the importance of early detection among the general public.

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"The sooner pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed and treated, the sooner a patient can benefit from an improvement in the quality of his or her life. With our commitment, we wish to contribute to the clarification and early detection of the disease".

Claudia Kimmich

Senior Customer Engagement Specialist Pulmonary Hypertension, MSD Schweiz

CH-NON-01417, 10/2021

Pulmonary Hypertension

What is pulmonary hypertension?

Shortness of breath, tiring more quickly and reduced capacity are amongst the early signs of pulmonary hypertension. Learn more about this rare chronic disease.


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Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a chronic pathological increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels that can result in a significant impairment of physical capacity. Due to its unspecific symptoms, it is often difficult to detect pulmonary hypertension. If it is not treated, it can be life-threatening.

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare disease

According to estimates, 125-425 people in Switzerland are affected by it and 8-25 new cases of the disease occur annually in Switzerland.

Diagnosing pulmonary hypertension is not easy

The complaints are at first often mild and may also indicate other diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic fatigue syndrome. That is why it can take on average up to 2.5 years to make a diagnosis. This is valuable time in which the patient is not receiving any effective therapy.

The initial symptoms of pulmonary hypertension may include:

  • Shortness of breath during physical exertion such as when climbing or going up stairs
  • Increased fatiguability
  • Feeling of tightness in chest
  • Heart palpitations, faster heartbeat
  • Dizziness during intense physical exertion
  • Reduced capacity

In an advanced stage, these complaints may occur:

  • Signs of a decreasing pumping power of the right heart, such as water accumulations in the legs (oedema) and distended jugular veins
  • Intense chest pain, as in a heart attack
  • Blue lips as a sign of reduced oxygen supply to the body, low or falling blood pressure readings in the systemic circulation

Treatment of pulmonary hypertension is done by a team of specialists

Only specialists with extensive experience can treat pulmonary hypertension because the therapy is complex and must be individually adapted to each patient based on the causes and symptoms. Therefore, it is important that those affected be treated in a specialised centre for pulmonary hypertension.

In Switzerland there are several specialised centres for pulmonary hypertension, so-called PH centres

In a PH centre, experts from different medical specialties collaborate in an interdisciplinary manner to enable patients with pulmonary hypertension to receive the therapy that gives them the greatest possible quality of life. The specialists are able to detect, diagnose and treat pulmonary hypertension. Moreover, PH centres are established for emergencies and offer those affected round the clock support.

Overview of PH centres in Switzerland

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Our commitment

The sooner pulmonary hypertension is diagnosed and treated, the sooner a patient can benefit from an improvement in the quality of his or her life. With our commitment, we wish to contribute to the clarification and early detection of the disease.

members of the SGPH standing on the maedow

Support for patients

The Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Pulmonale Hypertonie SGPH [Swiss Society for Pulmonary Hypertension, SGPH] is a panel of experts and is available as a reference centre on the subject of pulmonary hypertension for physicians and patients.

CH-NON-01409, 10/2021


Taking on lung cancer is worth the fight

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, and more than 4'000 people die of the disease every day.


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Starting the fight

Combined with a sense of stigma and shame associated with the disease, advanced lung cancer patients may feel scared and without options. It’s important to know that all patients are worthy of compassion and support from loved ones, health care providers and the wider cancer community.

Lung cancer stigma can lead a patient to:

Delay or refuse treatment

Avoid telling others about their diagnosis

Hesitate to reach out for help

Despite how common lung cancer is, there are still many misconceptions about the disease. While smoking is a leading cause, there are a number of other risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Having accurate information is a critical first step in the fight and understanding your diagnosis:

  • Worldwide, it is estimated that approximately 25% of lung cancer patients never smoked
  • External factors can lead to increased risk of lung cancer, including exposure to radon, asbestos and air pollution.
  • While lung cancer is mostly diagnosed in older people it can still occur in younger adults.
  • People diagnosed with lung cancer may experience similar kinds of challenges as anyone who learns they have cancer.

How to fight

Finding out you have advanced lung cancer is stressful and it can be hard to absorb all of the information shared. Conversations with your health care team can feel like a blur, but it’s important to have effective conversations with your doctor shortly after being diagnosed to understand your disease and next steps.

Take an active role in your health care by:

  • Learning about your cancer online or in the library and by talking to your doctor
  • Asking for a second opinion
  • Joining a cancer support group or speaking to others who have been through a similar experience

Good communication with your doctor will help you and your loved ones stay informed and ready to take action

Here are three helpful tips:


Jot down a list of questions to ask your doctor or use the downloadable discussion guide below before appointments.


Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re unsure or don’t understand something your doctor or nurse says.


Bring someone for support. They can listen and take notes when you speak with your health care team.

Questions for your doctor

Why we fight

Over the past decade, great strides have been made in advanced lung cancer care, leading to more survivors and a sense of hope for those facing the disease. Everyone’s reason to fight is unique, but it’s important to know.

CH-NON-01276, 06/2021


Five diabetes myths debunked

Get facts on five common falsehoods about diabetes.


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More than 463 million adults worldwide are living with diabetes, and while diabetes is a major health concern, it can sometimes be misunderstood. This is especially true for type 2 diabetes.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a condition characterized by insulin resistance. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose get into the body’s cells to be used for energy. In people with type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to properly use insulin, which allows too much glucose to build up in the blood and causes high blood sugar.

Here are five common myths about type 2 diabetes explained.


Myth: Type 2 diabetes is not a serious disease.

Reality: If type 2 diabetes is poorly managed, it can lead to serious complications. Diabetes management, including learning about the condition, adopting a healthy lifestyle and working with a health care provider to create a treatment plan, can help decrease the risk of complications, but this doesn’t mean that type 2 diabetes is not to be taken seriously.


Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s impossible to miss the signs.

Reality: In many cases, symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop slowly, often over the course of several years, and can be so mild that it’s easy for them to go unnoticed. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all, contributing to the fact that 1 in 2 adults with diabetes worldwide are undiagnosed.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include:

  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Slow healing wounds


Myth: All people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Reality: People who are overweight are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, but there are a number of other personal and lifestyle factors that contribute to an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Some risk factors may include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy


Myth: Type 2 diabetes only affects the pancreas.

Reality: Over time, type 2 diabetes can affect other parts of the body. For example, people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke as a person without diabetes. However, there are steps people can take that may help to reduce the risk of the more serious complications of type 2 diabetes. These include keeping blood sugar levels as close as possible to a person’s individualized goal, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol at levels set by a health care professional.


Myth: It is unsafe for people with type 2 diabetes to exercise*.

Reality: Physical activity is very important for people with type 2 diabetes, as it can help to control blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes-related complications like heart disease and nerve damage. But getting enough exercise doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym. Adults with type 2 diabetes can start with daily walks. Simple day-to-day activities like walking to the mailbox, or parking farther from the entrance are other options.

*Before starting any physical activity, talk to your health care provider about which activities may be most appropriate for you.

CH-NON-01260, 06/2021


What you should know about diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that manifests itself in an increased concentration of sugar in the blood.


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About 500,000 people in Switzerland are affected by diabetes and approximately 90% of them (one in 18 people) suffer from type 2 diabetes. Many people may not even know that they have this disease, as the average case of type 2 diabetes is not diagnosed for seven years. The number of diabetes patients is constantly rising. By 2045, the number of people affected across the world is estimated to have increased to 700 million.



people in Switzerland suffer from diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes makes up approximately


of all cases of diabetes diagnosed in adults.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition, which develops gradually and is characterized by increased blood sugar levels. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use the insulin effectively to convert blood sugar into energy (insulin resistance).

In most cases, type 2 diabetes does not develop until later in the patient’s life. At first, it does not cause any detectable symptoms. The condition often goes undetected until complications arise, such as wounds not healing properly or being prone to infection or visual impairments. Type 2 diabetes is affecting an increasing number of younger people who are severely overweight.

People with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases and death

Type 2 diabetic patients under 55 years of age have a greatly increased risk of heart attacks.

People with type 2 diabetes are 1.5 – 2 times more likely than the general population to suffer a stroke.

52% of deaths among people with type 2 diabetes are the result of a cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include:

  • Excessive thirst and dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Slow healing wounds

Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increasing age
  • High blood pressure
  • Ethnicity
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy

Blood sugar control is vital for type 2 diabetes patients

When treating type 2 diabetes, it is vitally important to normalise the patient’s increased blood sugar levels. Switching to a healthier diet and exercising more does help, but in many cases it is not enough. These patients also rely on antidiabetics (drugs that reduce blood sugar) and regular visits to their doctor.

CH-NON-00862; 06/2021