Autophagy (macroautophagy), an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal degradation process, is implicated in a wide variety of pathological processes including cancer. Autophagy plays the Janus role in regulating several survival or death signaling pathways that may decide the fate of cancer cell. Accumulating evidence has revealed the core molecular machinery of autophagy in tumor initiation and progression; however, the intricate relationships between autophagy and cancer are still in its infancy. In this review, we summarize several key survival/death pathways such as mTOR subnetwork, Beclin 1 interactome, and p53 signaling that may play the crucial roles for the regulation of the autophagy-related cancer networks. Therefore, a better understanding of the relationships between autophagy and cancer may ultimately allow cancer biologists and clinicians to harness core autophagic pathways for the discovery of potential novel drug targets.