Most human cancers arise either from epithelial cells or their progenitors. Epithelial cells possess a distinctive apical-basal polarity and loss of polarity is frequently assumed to be a common feature of cancer progression. In particular, cancer cell dissemination to ectopic sites, and metastatic growth at those sites, is often considered to require a mesenchymal transition in which the transformed epithelial cells lose their apical-basal polarity. However, many cancers retain epithelial characteristics, and until recently there has been little conclusive evidence for an involvement of the cell polarity machinery in tumour growth and metastasis. In this article, we discuss evidence that polarity proteins can be potent invasion suppressors but that loss of epithelial character is not essential either for tumour growth and invasion, or metastatic colonization.