In Switzerland, between 2016 and 2020, around 45 600 people developed cancer every year. This represents 377 people per 100 000 population. From 1981-85 to 2016-2020, a decrease was seen in the annual incidence rate among men for bronchus, lung and respiratory tract cancer (from 82 to 48 cases per 100 000 population). Over the same period, the incidence rate for these same cancers increased among women (from 13 to 31 cases per 100 000 population). A sharp increase among both sexes was seen for melanoma from 11 to 28 cases per 100 000 population).

Over the whole period men developed cancer slightly more than women. Cancer of the prostate is the most frequent cancer among men, followed by bronchus, lung and respiratory tract cancer as well as colon cancer. Among women, it is breast cancer, likewise followed by bronchus, lung and respiratory tract cancer as well as colon cancer.

This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Along with cardiovascular diseases, cancer is the most common cause of death in Switzerland (FSO). Cancer is also responsible for the greatest number of potential years of life lost in Switzerland (see “Years of life lost to NCD” indicator). With the demographic ageing of Switzerland’s population, cancer will become an even more important subject in the future, as the risk of developing most types of cancer increases with age. The most common types of cancer are breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, melanoma and bronchus, lung and respiratory tract cancer. A major risk factor for melanoma is ultraviolet radiation from the sun or lamps, such as those used in solariums. The risk factors of diet, exercise, alcohol and tobacco play an important role for the other four types of cancer.

The most relevant method to demonstrate the impact of measures in the prevention or treatment of cancer is to present the main types of cancer.


Swiss cancer data are provided by the NICER foundation (National Institute for Cancer Epidemiology and Registration) and the cantonal cancer registers. Since the cancer registration law (KRG - SR 818.33) came into force – from 2016 data onwards – this task has been assumed by the National Agency for Cancer Registration (NACR), run by the NICER foundation. This indicator is updated every three years. 

This indicator shows the annual cancer incidence rate per 100 000 population (more precisely: the annual average over a five-year period) as well as the percentage distribution of types of cancer. Epidemiology uses the term “incidence” to describe the number of new cases occurring in a defined population in a given period of time. The data by canton and sex are age-standardised according to the European standard population in 1976. Data by age and sex show the crude rates.

The cancer types are determined according to the ICD-10 :

  • C00-43, 45-97: All cancers (excl. non-melanotic skin cancer)
  • C18-20: Colon cancer (colon and rectal cancer)
  • C33-34: Bronchus, lung and respiratory tract cancer
  • C43: Melanoma
  • C50: Breast cancer
  • C61: Prostate cancer

There are several reasons for spatial or temporal differences between cancer incidence rates in the cantons (environmental factors, diagnostic factors and data availability, etc.). The incidence rates shown should, therefore, be interpreted with caution. The cancer registration law of 18 March 2016 introduced the uniform registration of cancers on a nationwide basis, further improving the comparability of data on the cancer burden in all cantons.


  • National Agency for Cancer Registration (NACR): Website


Further information

  • Cancer league: website (in German, French and Italian)
  • Childhood Cancer Registry: website
  • National Institue for Cancer Epidemiology and Registration (NICER): website 
  • Swiss Cancer Report 2021. Current situation and developments (2021). Federal Statistical Office (FSO), National Agency for Cancer Registration (NACR) Childhood Cancer Registry (KiKR). Neuchâtel: Report (in German and French).
  • Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO): Cancer in Switzerland 2013-2017

Media enquiries

Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Tel. +41 58 462 95 05

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