Guidelines for preparing cancer patients for threatening medical procedures were developed and refined and their perceived relevance and importance rated by three concerned groups--84 breast cancer patients, 64 doctors, and 140 nurses and nurse oncologists. All three groups indicated strong support for the guidelines. Patients and nurses rated more of the guidelines as essential aspects of good quality care than did doctors. Items in which a significant discrepancy existed included the importance of (a) consistent information, (b) involvement of others in preparation, and (c) assistance to the patient in coping with treatment for breast cancer. Doctors, compared with patients and nurses, underrated the importance of some aspects of preparation. These issues should be given more prominence in undergraduate and specialist medical training, as well as in continuing medical education.