In recent years, naturally occurring dietary compounds have received greater attention in the field of cancer prevention and treatment research. Among them, isoflavone genistein and curcumin are very promising anti-cancer agents because of their non-toxic and potent anti-cancer properties. However, it is important to note that the low water solubility, poor in vivo bioavailability and unacceptable pharmacokinetic profile of these natural compounds limit their efficacy as anti-cancer agents for solid tumors. Therefore, the development of synthetic analogs of isoflavone and curcumin based on the structure-activity assay, and the encapsulation of isoflavone and curcumin with liposome or nanoparticle for enhancing the anti-tumor activity of these natural agents, is an exciting area of research. Emerging in vitro and in vivo studies clearly suggest that these analogs and formulations of natural compounds could be much more potent for the prevention and/or treatment of various cancers. In this review article, we will summarize the current knowledge regarding the anti-cancer effect of natural compounds and their analogs, the regulation of cell signaling by these agents, and the structure-activity relationship for better design of novel anti-cancer agents, which could open newer avenues for the prevention of tumor progression and/or treatment of human malignancies.