Autophagy is a process in which cells can generate energy and building materials, by degradation of redundant and/or damaged organelles and proteins. Especially during conditions of stress, autophagy helps to maintain homeostasis. In addition, autophagy has been shown to influence malignant transformation and cancer progression. The precise molecular events in autophagy are complex and the core autophagic machinery described to date consists of nearly thirty proteins. Apart from these factors that execute the process of autophagy, several signalling pathways are involved in converting internal and external stimuli into an autophagic response. In this review we provide an overview of the signalling pathways that influence autophagy, particularly in cancer cells. We will illustrate that interference with multiple of these signalling pathways can have significant effects on cancer cell survival.