Study objective: The Italian Survey of the Dying of Cancer (ISDOC) was undertaken to evaluate the experiences of Italian people dying from cancer during their last three months of life in all settings of care. Study design: A two-stage probability sample was used to estimate end-of-life outcomes of about 160 000 Italian cancer deaths. In the first stage, 30 of the 197 Italian Local Health Districts (LHD) were randomly selected after stratification. In the second stage, a fixed proportion of cancer deaths was randomly drawn from each LHD, and 2000 death certificates of patients who died of cancer were identified. The non-professional caregivers were identified and interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire derived from the Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services (VOICES). Results: Caregivers were successfully identified for 95% of the sample (n = 1900). The caregiver was the child (42.7%), the spouse (36.5%), another family member (17.3%), or a friend (1.5%). Only 3% of the sample had no non-professional support. An interview was obtained for 1289 (64.5%) of the sample, at a median time of 234 days after death (range: 103-374). Higher response rates were associated with home death (67.7%) and with a higher education (>70%). Conversely, a lower response rate was observed when the caregiver was the spouse (56.2%). Response rates ranged from about 80% for letters sent four to six months after the patients’ death to about 60% for letters sent after eight months or more. A descriptive analysis of refusals, based on the transcripts of the telephone calls, allowed classification of 61% of refusals for at least one of the two dimensions examined: caregiver psychological suffering and quality of care received by the patient. Psychological suffering was present in 99% of refusals examined for this dimension (48%). Conversely, a poor quality of care was reported by 63% of the refusals examined for this dimension (23%). Conclusion: The ISDOC survey provides a representative picture of the needs and problems associated with the last three months of life of Italian cancer patients.