The development, perspectives, and challenges of photothermal therapy (PTT) and photoacoustic imaging (PAI) via nanotheranostics for combating cancer. The nonradiative conversion of light energy into heat (photothermal therapy, PTT) or sound energy (photoacoustic imaging, PAI) has been intensively investigated for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, respectively. By taking advantage of nanocarriers, both imaging and therapeutic functions together with enhanced tumour accumulation have been thoroughly studied to improve the pre-clinical efficiency of PAI and PTT. In this review, we first summarize the development of inorganic and organic nano photothermal transduction agents (PTAs) and strategies for improving the PTT outcomes, including applying appropriate laser dosage, guiding the treatment via imaging techniques, developing PTAs with absorption in the second NIR window, increasing photothermal conversion efficiency (PCE), and also increasing the accumulation of PTAs in tumours. Second, we introduce the advantages of combining PTT with other therapies in cancer treatment. Third, the emerging applications of PAI in cancer-related research are exemplified. Finally, the perspectives and challenges of PTT and PAI for combating cancer, especially regarding their clinical translation, are discussed. We believe that PTT and PAI having noteworthy features would become promising next-generation non-invasive cancer theranostic techniques and improve our ability to combat cancers.