Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) are released in response to cell death and stress, and are potent triggers of sterile inflammation. Recent evidence suggests that DAMPs may also have a key role in the development of cancer, as well as in the host response to cytotoxic anti-tumor therapy. As such, DAMPs may exert protective functions by alerting the immune system to the presence of dying tumor cells, thereby triggering immunogenic tumor cell death. On the other hand, cell death and release of DAMPs may also trigger chronic inflammation and, thereby promote the development or progression of tumors. Here, we will review the contribution of candidate DAMPs and their receptors, and discuss the evidence for DAMPs as tumor-promoting and anti-tumor effectors, as well as unsolved questions such as DAMP release from non-tumor cells as well as the existence of tumor-specific DAMPs.