Rightfully so, Apple and Steve Jobs have been tight lipped about what recent medical ailment has forced Steve Jobs to take a step back from Apple and leave day to day duties in the hands of trusty COO Tim Cook. It’s been reported, however, that Jobs had recently experienced a relatively severe “down cycle” in the wake of his liver transplant last year and that he was appearing increasingly emaciated. One medical expert contacted by the Wall Street Journal speculated that the cancer that first afflicted Jobs in 2004 and re-emerged again in 2009 had metastasized.
In any event, Fortune writes that back in 2009, Jobs traveled to a hospital in Basel Switzerland to receive treatment for neuroendocrine cancer.
During that  absence, Fortune can report, Jobs also took an unpublicized flight to Switzerland to undergo an unusual radiological treatment at the University of Basel for neuroendocrine cancer, according to Jerry York, the Apple director who died in March 2010.
… York told me about the treatment, which was not available in the U.S., in the context of our discussions about Jobs, his health and Apple’s future. Under our agreement at the time, York wanted the facts of Jobs’s treatment in Switzerland to remain out of the news. He didn’t say whether the board knew of it. (With York’s death, the off-the-record agreement is no longer in place.)
A neuroendocrine cancer expert at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics said Monday that recent studies show that “survival rates are improving” due to better treatment. At the time Jobs’s cancer was originally diagnosed in 2004, according to Dr. Thor Halfdanarson, the five-year survival rate for metastatic disease was thought to be less than 20%. Today “the prognosis is getting better,” with the five-year survival rate at 55% to 57%, he said, according to one recent study.
So why Switzerland? Well, the University Hospital of Basel has apparently developed a special type of hormone-delivered radiotherapy to treat neuroendocrine cancer that isn’t available here in the US.