The recent wide-spread adoption of single cell profiling technologies has revealed that individual cancers are not homogenous collections of deregulated cells, but instead are comprised of multiple genetically and phenotypically distinct cell subpopulations that exhibit a wide range of responses to extracellular signals and therapeutic insult. Such observations point to the urgent need to understand cancer as a complex, adaptive system. Cancer systems biology studies seek to develop the experimental and theoretical methods required to understand how biological components work together to determine how cancer cells function. Ultimately, such approaches will lead to improvements in how cancer is managed and treated. In this review, we discuss recent advances in cancer systems biology approaches to quantify, model, and elucidate mechanisms of heterogeneity.