Purpose: The purposes of the present study were to classify the palliative care population (PCP) in a comprehensive cancer centre by using information on antineoplastic treatment options and to analyse associations between socio-demographic factors, cancer diagnoses, treatment characteristics and receiving specialist palliative care (SPC). Methods: This is a cross-sectional screening study of patients with cancer in the Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital for 6 months. Patients were assessed to be included in the DOMUS study: a randomised controlled trial of accelerated transition to SPC at home (NCT01885637). The PCP was classified as patients with incurable cancer and limited or no antineoplastic treatment options. Patients with performance status 2–4 were further classified as the essential palliative care population (EPCP). Results: During the study period, 3717 patients with cancer were assessed. The PCP comprised 513 patients yielding a prevalence of 14 %. The EPCP comprised 256 patients (7 %). The EPCP was older, more likely inpatients, had a higher comorbidity burden and 38 % received SPC. Women, patients without caregivers and patients with breast cancer were more likely to receive SPC. Conclusions: By using objective criteria from clinical data and systematic screening, the observed prevalence of the PCP of 14 % may be generalisable to comprehensive cancer centres with similar composition of cancer diagnoses.