Nucleic acids and regulatory proteins are compartmentalized in microenvironments within the nucleus. This subnuclear organization may support convergence and the integration of physiological signals for the combinatorial control of gene expression, DNA replication and repair. Nuclear organization is modified in many cancers. There are cancer-related changes in the composition, organization and assembly of regulatory complexes at intranuclear sites. Mechanistic insights into the temporal and spatial organization of machinery for gene expression within the nucleus, which is compromised in tumours, provide a novel platform for diagnosis and therapy.