The past decade has highlighted the central role of epigenetic processes in cancer causation, progression and treatment. Next-generation sequencing is providing a window for visualizing the human epigenome and how it is altered in cancer. This view provides many surprises, including linking epigenetic abnormalities to mutations in genes that control DNA methylation, the packaging and the function of DNA in chromatin, and metabolism. Epigenetic alterations are leading candidates for the development of specific markers for cancer detection, diagnosis and prognosis. The enzymatic processes that control the epigenome present new opportunities for deriving therapeutic strategies designed to reverse transcriptional abnormalities that are inherent to the cancer epigenome.