High vacancy rates for the roles mean patients may not be getting the level of care they need, Macmillan Cancer Support say.
They add that there is a “startling” variation in the number of the nurses across England.
The charity said the report highlights a "worrying trend" of specialist cancer nurses being paid in lower pay bands than in 2014, when such research was last carried out.
It also warns that the proportion of specialist cancer nurses aged 50 or older continues to climb.
This is happening as the number of people with cancer is increasing – with more than 830 cancers diagnosed every day in England.
Dr Karen Roberts, the charity's chief nursing officer, said: "Having the expertise and support of a specialist nurse from the point of diagnosis has a huge bearing on whether or not a cancer patient has a positive experience of the care they receive.
"We are concerned that cancer nurses are being run ragged, and that some patients may not be receiving the level of specialist care they need.
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