RNA plays essential roles in not only translating nucleic acids into proteins, but also in gene regulation, environmental interactions and many human diseases. Nature uses over 150 chemical modifications to decorate RNA and diversify its functions. With the fast-growing RNA research in the burgeoning field of 'epitranscriptome', a term describes post-transcriptional RNA modifications that can dynamically change the transcriptome, it becomes clear that these modifications participate in modulating gene expression and controlling the cell fate, thereby igniting the new interests in RNA-based drug discovery. The dynamics of these RNA chemical modifications is orchestrated by coordinated actions of an array of writer, reader and eraser proteins. Deregulated expression of these RNA modifying proteins can lead to many human diseases including cancer. In this review, we highlight several critical modifications, namely m6A, m1A, m5C, inosine and pseudouridine, in both coding and non-coding RNAs. In parallel, we present a few other cancer-related tRNA and rRNA modifications. We further discuss their roles in cancer promotion or tumour suppression. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the biogenesis and turnover of these RNA modifications will be of great significance in the design and development of novel anticancer drugs.