Cancer patients who start receiving chemotherapy have difficulty in understanding the state of their disease, the prognosis, and the purpose of treatment. We used a survey to evaluate the extent of perception of chemotherapy goal among cancer patients. Two hundred sixteen cancer patients who received chemotherapy for the first time participated in the study. The presence of depression and anxiety was assessed using the "Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale" (HAD). The consistency between the patients' perception of the chemotherapy goal and the physician's perception was described as "right," and the inconsistency was described as "wrong." Among the patients who participated in the survey, 53.2 % (n = 115) were receiving adjuvant treatment and 46.8 % (n = 101) were receiving palliative treatment for metastatic disease. The rate of right and wrong perception of the chemotherapy goal was 51.9 % (n = 108) and 32.2 % (n = 67), respectively, and the rate of confused patients was 18.9 % (n = 41). The level of education was shown to be the only parameter involved in accurate perception of the treatment purpose (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.444, p = 0.025, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.219-0.903). In this study, there was a 51.9 % consistency between the physician's perception and that of the patient regarding the purpose of treatment. We demonstrated that the level of education was the unique factor in accurate perception of chemotherapy goal among cancer patients.