Supportive care is a multidimensional field, that involves caring for a patient's symptoms either during and/or after treatment. Ideally, once these supportive care needs are met, patients can enjoy an improved quality of life. Supportive care needs include all body systems, and are, therefore, difficult to manage, secondary to the fact that they require collaboration among multiple medical specialties. In this review, several components of supportive care are separated into two categories: tumor-related morbidities and treatment-related morbidities. Some of the themes discussed include nausea and vomiting, cancer pain, psychological distress, fatigue and anemia, small bowel obstruction and peripheral neuropathy. While all of these components are challenging to manage, it is perhaps the psychosocial realm that remains the most unmet need. Regardless, the oncologist must act as a facilitator who addresses these needs and, if unable to address the issue alone, knows how to steer the patient toward the appropriate provider. As these needs are met, the goal is for quality of life to improve; and with the improvement in quality of life we may expect to see improved survival outcomes. © 2008 Future Drugs Ltd.