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Healthcare Swiss national cancer registry programme postponed

A picture of a mammography scan

Under the new system, doctors and hospitals will be obliged to register each new cancer case. 


The Federal Council announced on Wednesday that the national cancer registry programme will not start until 2020, a year later than planned. The delay is intended to give cantonal authorities more time to prepare for the new system of which they were somewhat critical.

The aim of the registry is to provide a platform to comprehensively record incidents of cancer across Switzerland. In parliament, the project was largely unchallenged, and it was also welcomed by health insurance associations, patient protection groups and the Swiss Medical Association, FMH.external link

Cantonal resistance

Several cantonal authorities criticised the programme however, and some described it as an “expensive data cemetery”. During the consultation process, they questioned the registry’s cost-benefit ratio and expressed concern that the government’s plan went too far.

The Federal Council said that it took this criticism seriously, and while it hadn’t made any changes to the programme’s content, it had decided to postpone the project to give cantonal authorities more time to prepare for any changes.

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Patient protection

The new registry will build on the existing, decentralised system and will continue to be financed by local authorities. Under the new system, doctors and hospitals will be obliged to register each cancer case and a yearly report will evaluate and analyse the collected data.

Patients will have to be informed by their doctors about their rights and data protection and will be able to prevent their information from being registered at any point.

Every year, 40,000 new cancer cases are registered in Switzerland and 17,000 people die from the disease. The number of cancer-related deaths in the country will increase by a third over the next twenty years due to demographic changes, according to estimates by the Federal Statistical Officeexternal link.


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