When asked before admission to hospital 74% of 640 surgical patients suffering from various abdominal diseases stated that they wanted to be told if examinations revealed they were suffering from cancer. A prospective study of 58 patients confirmed this wish and no regrets were noted 3 days and 3 months later. The immediate reactions to information were moderate and almost all patients adjusted well to the situation after a short, varying, initial phase with anxiety. No severe, untoward reactions were seen. In contrast to the traditional attitude in surgical wards this study suggests that generally cancer patients should be given the diagnosis.