Transposable elements are present in almost all genomes including that of humans. These mobile DNA sequences are capable of invading genomes and their impact on genome evolution is substantial as they contribute to the genetic diversity of organisms. The mobility of transposable elements can cause deleterious mutations, gene disruption and chromosome rearrangements that may lead to several pathologies including cancer. This mini-review aims to give a brief overview of the relationship that transposons and retrotransposons may have in the genetic cause of human cancer onset, or conversely creating protection against cancer. Finally, the cause of TE mobility may also be the cancer cell environment itself. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.