The present investigation was designed to test whether, and in which manner, the cancer patients judge their emotional state differently to their care providers. Emotional distress and hope are rated by the patients, the physicians concerned, nurses, next of kin and interviewers respectively. Compared with the external observers (as well as the self-images of the next of kin), the patients rate their distress significantly lower. The ratings that both they and their next of kin give for their hope are significantly higher than those given by professional care givers. The relatives' estimates of the patients' states are more strongly correlated with their own self-reports than with those of the patients. In addition, the factorial structures differ from one level of perception to the next. The differences revealed by the present study are discussed in the light of social comparison processes and with reference to the patient's specific relations to his professional and natural supporters.