Cancer is difficult for people from ethnically diverse communities to cope with, because there is inequality in getting information and services to meet their needs for prevention, prompt diagnosis, treatment, care and support. Research with black minority ethnic (BME) communities indicates a lack of knowledge about cancer, and a desire for more information, yet research is highly equivocal with regard to health and social care workers' ability to provide this. The study described in this article aimed to identify the educational and support needs of health and social care workers from statutory and voluntary sectors, working with people affected by cancer in one London borough. Qualitative research methods of one-to-one interview and focus group discussion were used among 33 staff working in various community, organizational and professional settings. Two focus groups were held with cancer patients and carers to gain complementary understanding of their needs for support and information. Health and social care workers are challenged when providing cancer information and support to people from BME communities, even when the worker is of the same cultural background as the person affected by cancer. Interviewees considered that in most respects, the challenges for improving cancer care for people from BME communities are those common for all, and that the difficulty in providing and sustaining improved cancer information and support services to BME communities in their borough lies in poverty, low literacy and social exclusion as much as cultural difference.