Heat Shock Factor 1 (HSF1), the master transcriptional regulator of the heat shock response (HSR), was first cloned more than 30 years ago. Most early research interrogating the role that HSF1 plays in biology focused on its cytoprotective functions, as a factor that promotes the survival of organisms by protecting against the proteotoxicity associated with neurodegeneration and other pathological conditions. However, recent studies have revealed a deleterious role of HSF1, as a factor that is co-opted by cancer cells to promote their own survival to the detriment of the organism. In cancer, HSF1 operates in a multifaceted manner to promote oncogenic transformation, proliferation, metastatic dissemination, and anti-cancer drug resistance. Here we review our current understanding of HSF1 activation and function in malignant progression and discuss the potential for HSF1 inhibition as a novel anticancer strategy. Collectively, this ever-growing body of work points to a prominent role of HSF1 in nearly every aspect of carcinogenesis.