Genomics has the potential to revolutionize the diagnosis and management of cancer by offering an unprecedented comprehensive view of the molecular underpinnings of pathology. Computational analysis is essential to transform the masses of generated data into a mechanistic understanding of disease. Here we review current research aimed at uncovering the modular organization and function of transcriptional networks and responses in cancer. We first describe how methods that analyze biological processes in terms of higher-level modules can identify robust signatures of disease mechanisms. We then discuss methods that aim to identify the regulatory mechanisms underlying these modules and processes. Finally, we show how comparative analysis, combining human data with model organisms, can lead to more robust findings. We conclude by discussing the challenges of generalizing these methods from cells to tissues and the opportunities they offer to improve cancer diagnosis and management.