Cancer is widespread among eukaryotes, and can be successfully tackled only by understanding its place in the story of life itself – especially the evolution of multi-cellularity. There is general agreement that the roots of cancer date back hundreds of millions of years. The ancient genes responsible for cancer are retained because they play a key role in embryo development. Normally these genes are subsequently silenced, but if they become re-awakened in the adult form, cancer is the result. The workshop is an ambitious attempt to connect the dots of evolutionary biology, developmental biology and cancer biology, bringing together three distinct communities in the search for hidden links that may form the basis of a radically new theory of cancer.