This study aimed to assess nurses' involvement in the supportive care of patients with recently diagnosed breast cancer in Dutch hospitals. A questionnaire used to evaluate various aspects of nursing care for breast cancer patients was sent to the surgical nursing teams in all 120 Dutch hospitals that provide surgical treatment for these patients. Nursing care was defined to be optimal if it met the following criteria: (a) Specialized nursing support is provided to all patients during admission and in the outpatient departments both before and after surgery. (b) A protocol is in place outlining standard nursing procedures for breast cancer patients. (c) Formal communication about each breast cancer patient exists between the nurses involved. On the basis of this definition, it was found that optimal nursing care was provided in only 6% of the hospitals. Nursing care fell short mainly in the outpatient setting. This shortcoming also was recognized by most respondents, and many were already planning improvements. Nurses had varying opinions about their responsibility to provide the patient with information about the disease and its treatment, and consensus was lacking. In summary, nursing care for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in Dutch hospitals needs improvement, especially in the outpatient setting.