Adequate monitoring in cancer control needs to include measures of psychosocial outcomes so as to take account of the totality of the felt cancer experience. There is a need to know whether the experience of cancer is changing, as well as a need for tools to identify where supportive care interventions or services could be targeted to good effect. The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of using a telephone-administered survey to identify the unmet needs of cancer patients. Participants were identified from a statewide population-based cancer registry following an episode of hospitalized care in Victoria (Australia). Of the 506 eligible patients, 236 completed a telephone adaptation of the Supportive Care Needs Survey-Short Form (SCNS-SF31). Sampling from the cancer registry was shown to provide timely contact with patients. Results from the survey indicated that perceived needs for this newly diagnosed group of cancer patients were mostly in the area of information provision. Results also showed that some socio-demographic and disease-specific variables affected the level of perceived unmet needs. Overall, this study indicated that registry-based sampling was practical and the telephone adaptation of the SCNS-SF31 provided a reliable method to explore the unmet needs of newly diagnosed patients with cancer.