Background: Several studies have identified inadequacies in the care and treatment received by older patients with cancer, as opposed to their younger counterparts. These include over or under diagnosis, ineffective symptom management and lower survival rates in older people with cancer. Despite these inadequacies, there is a lack of evidence of older peoples' perspectives regarding their cancer diagnosis and treatment. Materials and methods: Studies for review were identified from systematic searches of literature published between January 1990 and November 2003, using PubMed, CINAHL and PsycINFO. Studies were selected for inclusion by using a number of criteria (i.e. date and language of publication, age of participants and thematic area). The aims of the review were to summarize and evaluate previous evidence on the views of older patients with cancer, regarding information, decision making and treatment. Results: Eighteen studies of various methodologies met the criteria of the present review. In summary, older people with cancer are generally content with the information they receive, but not entirely satisfied with the quantity and quality of care and contact. They present with various needs, which are not always well met. Finally, they wish to be kept informed of their cancer diagnosis and treatment progress, but often do not wish to be told about progression of their illness and length of survival. Conclusions: Previous research has suffered a number of limitations regarding sampling procedures and methods of data collection. Other limitations included lack of consideration of the heterogeneity of older people with cancer and lack of a well-defined theoretical framework to guide design and data analysis. These may compromise not only rigour and the ability to generalize findings, but also the provision of patient-focused care. The difficulties of doing research in this area are also discussed and suggestions for future research are made.