This descriptive study of the perceptions and needs of people with recurrent malignancies asks three questions: How do patients describe the meaning of a recurrence of cancer? Do individuals perceive the diagnosis of recurrence and the initial diagnosis of cancer differently? What are the key psychosocial problems associated with recurrent cancer? The theoretical framework was based on Lazarus and Folkman's theory of stress, appraisal, and coping. Subjects completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale--Self-Report (PAIS), and a semistructured qualitative interview. The interview elicited perceptions of the event of recurrence and differences between the diagnosis of recurrence and the initial diagnosis. The convenience sample included 40 patients diagnosed with recurrent cancer within the last 30 days. Many subjects (78%) reported that the recurrence was more upsetting than the initial diagnosis. Scores on both the IES and the PAIS were high when compared to normative samples of patients with cancer suggesting that this sample of patients experienced a lot of psychological distress as well as problems at home, work, and in their social lives. These concerns often were unknown to caregivers. Although more research is needed, the authors propose that, with more accurate assessment, more effective intervention could be implemented and the quality of life improved for patients with recurrent cancer.