The recent advances in in vitro 3D culture technologies, such as organoids, have opened new avenues for the development of novel, more physiological human cancer models. Such preclinical models are essential for more efficient translation of basic cancer research into novel treatment regimens for patients with cancer. Wild-type organoids can be grown from embryonic and adult stem cells and display self-organizing capacities, phenocopying essential aspects of the organs they are derived from. Genetic modification of organoids allows disease modelling in a setting that approaches the physiological environment. Additionally, organoids can be grown with high efficiency from patient-derived healthy and tumour tissues, potentially enabling patient-specific drug testing and the development of individualized treatment regimens. In this Review, we evaluate tumour organoid protocols and how they can be utilized as an alternative model for cancer research.