Audio recordings were made of the initial interview conducted between a cancer physician and 29 patients at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment planning. The tape recordings were then given to these patients to allow review as often as desired. Follow-up questionnaires were collected to evaluate this experience. We found that the recording session was well accepted and that the taped interviews were frequently reviewed, usually with family and friends. Despite the patients' initial feelings that both diagnosis and treatment plan were well understood, most felt that listening to the taped interview provided new information and a clearer understanding about their cancer care. The results of our study support the use of recorded interviews as a valuable tool to help patients and families cope with cancer and a successful method to improve communication with physicians.