Homeostasis of tissues is tightly regulated at the cellular, tissue and organismal level. Interestingly, tumor cells have found ways to hijack many of these physiological processes at all the different levels. Here we review how intravital microscopy techniques have provided new insights into our understanding of tissue homeostasis and cancer progression. In addition, we highlight the different strategies that tumor cells have adopted to use these physiological processes for their own benefit. We describe how visualization of these dynamic processes in living mice has broadened to our view on cancer initiation and progression.