Goals of work The aim of this study was to collect information about cancer patients' current e-mail use and willingness to communicate with healthcare providers by e-mail. Materials and methods A cohort of 208 patients, undergoing treatment at a comprehensive cancer center in an urban academic medical center in southeastern USA, participated in this descriptive study. An Internet use questionnaire was developed and then used to survey patients with cancer. Main results The majority of patients indicated that e-mail would be a desirable method of clinical communication. A subset of patients would not use e-mail for clinical purposes even if they had access. Conclusions E-mail communication may be an acceptable form of communication among patients, nurses, and other members of the support team. Because a subset of patients will not use this form of communication, assessment of individual patient preferences for use of e-mail is indicated prior to enrolling them in an e-mail communication program.