Colorectal and pancreatic cancer represent two major health concerns in their own right – the first for being one of the most prevalent cancers in the western world, and the latter for being one of the most lethal of all human cancers. While progress has been made in cancer research and tumor understanding in general, and for colorectal cancer (CRC) and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) in particular, still thousands of lives are lost to these two diseases annually. Obviously, the search for new molecular markers and pathways that will lead to better and earlier diagnostics, with potential for better and more efficient therapeutic interventions is direly needed. A general overview of cancer hallmarks, with focus on proliferation and apoptosis is given in this mini-review. The molecular role of the telomere function and the universal tumor-antigen survivin, with regards to CRC and PDAC progression and development is discussed. These two markers may hold universal cancer therapeutic potential, also for CRC and PDAC.