Autophagy is a process that takes place in all mammalian cells and ensures homoeostasis and quality control. The term autophagy [self (auto)-eating (phagy)] was first introduced in 1963 by Christian de Duve, who discovered the involvement of lysosomes in the autophagy process. Since then, substantial progress has been made in understanding the molecular mechanism and signalling regulation of autophagy and several reviews have been published that comprehensively summarize these findings. The role of autophagy in cancer has received a lot of attention in the last few years and autophagy modulators are now being tested in several clinical trials. In the present chapter we aim to give a brief overview of recent findings regarding the mechanism and key regulators of autophagy and discuss the important physiological role of mammalian autophagy in health and disease. Particular focus is given to the role of autophagy in cancer prevention, development and in response to anticancer therapy. In this regard, we also give an updated list and discuss current clinical trials that aim to modulate autophagy, alone or in combination with radio-, chemo- or targeted therapy, for enhanced anticancer intervention.