This paper discusses the particular ethical issues that are present when attempting to undertake research involving patients accessing palliative care for cancer. It focuses on the use of Hammick's research ethics wheel (REW) in relation to a research study undertaken by the authors. Applying the REW enabled the authors to identify and incorporate the ethical issues and dilemmas inherent within such a study at a practical level. Ethical reasons for undertaking research with such vulnerable participants are explained and justified with reference to the REW. Ethical considerations are crucial to any research study involving human participants, but particularly so when dealing with participants who are as vulnerable as those in a palliative care setting. The use of the REW enabled the authors to feel confident that all such concerns had been identified before data collection began.