Microbes are important causes of human cancers, and our estimation of their significance continues to grow as cancer biology is better dissected. A classification system is proposed that highlights common and proposed microbe-induced pathways toward oncogenesis, with an emphasis on types of targeted cells and host-microbial interactions. The central principles that underlie oncogenesis induced by the many diverse microbes and the major mechanisms involved are outlined. The phenomenon of microbe-induced cancers raises a number of important biological questions, the solving of which may inform other fields, including aging and degenerative disorders. Finally, our challenge for the future is to better understand the steps in microbe-induced cancers to optimize both prevention and therapy.