A new study suggests that blocking a cell survival mechanism may render lung cancer tumors less deadly. To provide energy for their rapid multiplication, cancer cells digest some of their own internal parts in a process called autophagy (literally 'self-eating'). Autophagy also clears away old, damaged cell components. When scientists blocked autophagy in a mouse model of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the cancer cells accumulated defective cell structures and turned from aggressive lung cancer tumors into oncocytomas, a more easily-controlled tumor type that usually does not spread to other parts of the body. Inhibiting autophagy also activated the so-called 'tumor suppressor gene' p53, which halts tumor growth. Autophagy may present a promising target in lung cancer treatment.