NLRs (nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich repeat containing receptors) are pattern recognition receptors associated with immunity and inflammation in response to endogenous and exogenous pathogen and damage associated molecular patterns (PAMPs and DAMPs respectively). Dysregulated NLR function is associated with several diseases including cancers, metabolic diseases, autoimmune disorders and autoinflammatory syndromes. In the last decade, distinct cell and organ specific roles for NLRs have been identified however; their roles in cancer initiation, development and progression remain controversial. This review summarizes the emerging role of NLRs in cancer and their possible future as targets for cancer therapeutics. © 2015 Springer International Publishing.