Pain is the main problem for patients with cancer referred to palliative care (PC). Pain management in PC requires a multidimensional approach. A questionnaire was used to determine cancer patients' experiences of care related to pain management, before and after being referred to PC, and to also discover possible correlations between pain control and other aspects of care. Seventy-five consecutive patients from two PC teams were included in the study. The patients had experienced a statistically significant (P < 0.01) improvement in care after being referred to PC, despite the fact that pain control had not been optimized. Patients' description of ‘pain control’ after being referred to PC had a statistically significant correlation with their ‘feeling of security’ and ‘continuity of care’ throughout the same period. The conclusion is that care provided in PC is vital to successful pain management. Pain control depends not only on analgesics but also on many other aspects of care provided by the nurse. Continuity of care and the opportunity to talk increases the patients' feeling of security, which is also of utmost importance to successful pain management.