Purpose The aims of this study were to adapt an instrument to measure the information needs of patients with cancer of the rectum and determine how these information needs were met, using an adapted form of the Toronto Information Needs Questionnaire. Method The questionnaire was administered in a semi-structured interview with 40 patients who had undergone surgery and treatment for cancer of the rectum in the previous 18 months. Results The instrument used in this study demonstrated content and construct validity. The results of this study indicated that information needs were high in this patient group. Patients felt that many information needs with ratings of a high level of importance were not adequately addressed. A Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test comparing the importance of informational needs with how needs were addressed indicated significant negative Z values for 33.9% (n =18) of the items. Patients differed in the information that they required due to differences in treatment plans, treatment outcomes and preferences as to the type of information required. Conclusions There is a need for individualised information provision for this patient group, provided in sections that can be read in isolation. This would ensure that patients receive information relevant to their treatment plan and the topics which they have identified as being important to them.