Abstract The aim of this study was to examine different aspects of dyspnoea in an Australian acute cancer care population, specifically prevalence, recognition, reporting, symptom control methods and prognostic significance. Patients and treating hospital medical officer were concurrently asked to evaluate the experience of dyspnoea. The prevalence of dyspnoea was 33%, with discrepancies observed between patient and doctor reporting of the presence of dyspnoea (P = 0.021), as well as its intensity and distress. Symptomatic methods for the relief of cancer-related dyspnoea are underused, particularly opioids. The medical underestimation of dyspnoea is consistent with previous studies and potentially detracts from effective management of this symptom.