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Cell death and cancer are the opposite sides of the same coin. They are inextricably linked as cancer is by definition cell death gone awry. As such, the elucidation of the mechanisms of cell death is very central to comprehension of cancer's underpinnings. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is the initially recognized most well-studied and understood form of organized cellular demise. Mutations in apoptotic pathways invariably lead to oncogenesis. However, over the past decade other forms of programmed cell death have come to the fore and, paradoxically, rather than being the antithesis of cancer, these cell death pathways actually promote tumor growth. For example, necroptosis, which is organized cellular necrosis, has been shown to promote cancer formation and metastases by induction of inflammatory mechanisms and accentuating peritumoral immune suppression. Similarly, ferroptosis, or death by iron deposition, is an increasingly recognized form of cell death that can accelerate tumorigenesis. The accompanying collection of articles represents key research in the burgeoning area of ferroptosis and its impact on oncogenesis published in the journals Oncogene, Oncogenesis and Cancer Cell International. The editors welcome future submissions to expand this collection further.