The aim of this study was to explore the challenges experienced by nurses when caring for young adults with cancer. The study was carried out to increase the understanding of basic competences when nursing these patients. Data analysis identified six competences: 1) acquire knowledge about young adults with cancer, 2) act as the young person’s source of experience, conveying their knowledge and experiences through age appropriate information, 3) show their expertise by contributing what they assess to be important for the young person, 4) take responsibility for making individual agreements with the young person, making the day work within the existing routines of the hospitals, 5) balance between being a private and a professional person, 6) create cooperation between the young adult, the parents and the nurse.

This study contributes to the development of future research based educational programmes to specialise nurses who care for young people with cancer.