Generic measures of benefit which employ individuals' preferences, such as the quality-adjusted life-year (QALY), are, in principle, the most appropriate outcome measure to use in the economic evaluation of cancer therapies. They can reflect the trade-offs between health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) and length of life, between different dimensions of HR-QOL and between the process (e.g. convenience) and outcome characteristics of treatments. This paper reviews the methods literature on preference-based measures of benefit in economic evaluation, with the aim of establishing good practice for applied studies using these methods. A systematic review of applied economic evaluations of cancer therapies which have used these types of benefit measure was performed with the aim of establishing whether studies in this area adhere to good practice. In total, 29 studies were reviewed, and the results showed that, in general, good methods are not being adopted. This may be due, in part, to authors not having the space in journals to detail their methods fully, but it is likely also to reflect the fact that good methods for the use of preference-based measures of benefit in economic evaluation have not been adequately disseminated.