We describe here the main natural compounds used in cancer therapy and prevention, the historical aspects of their application and pharmacognosy. Two major applications of these compounds are described: as cancer therapeutics and as chemopreventive compounds. Both natural compounds, extracted from plants or animals or produced by microbes (antibiotics), and synthetic compounds, derived from natural prototype structures, are being used. We also focus on the molecular aspects of interactions with their recognized cellular targets, from DNA to microtubules. Some critical aspects of current cancer chemotherapy are also discussed, focusing on genetics and genomics, and the recent revolutionary theory of cancer: aneuploidy as the primum movens of cancer.