Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is a progressive inherited disorder in which renal tissue is gradually replaced with fluid-filled cysts, giving rise to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and progressive loss of renal function. ADPKD is also associated with liver ductal cysts, hypertension, chronic pain and extra-renal problems such as cerebral aneurysms. Intriguingly, improved understanding of the signalling and pathological derangements characteristic of ADPKD has revealed marked similarities to those of solid tumours, even though the gross presentation of tumours and the greater morbidity and mortality associated with tumour invasion and metastasis would initially suggest entirely different disease processes. The commonalities between ADPKD and cancer are provocative, particularly in the context of recent preclinical and clinical studies of ADPKD that have shown promise with drugs that were originally developed for cancer. The potential therapeutic benefit of such repurposing has led us to review in detail the pathological features of ADPKD through the lens of the defined, classic hallmarks of cancer. In addition, we have evaluated features typical of ADPKD, and determined whether evidence supports the presence of such features in cancer cells. This analysis, which places pathological processes in the context of defined signalling pathways and approved signalling inhibitors, highlights potential avenues for further research and therapeutic exploitation in both diseases.