El-P has stated that "I think that I’m trying to create an idea or illustrate a thought pattern, just because there’s darkness that I see and think about, it doesn’t mean I’ve given into it. I think the record is ultimately about not giving into it. For the most part I’m struggling with that darkness throughout the record. When I say it’s about wanting to live, I just say that because that’s how I feel. When you get hit with death, sometimes as horrible as it is, one of the things that can come out of it is a reaffirmation of how much you don’t want to go, and I think that’s what happened with me."
At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received a score of 84, based on 39 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." AllMusic reviewed the album giving it a score of 4 out of 5, stating "Cancer4Cure is about hip-hop like Glengarry Glen Ross was about sales, but these great works transcend their industries, offering solace and inspiration to anyone who would prefer a satisfied mind over a Cadillac Eldorado, or in current terms, an Escalade."
In contrast The Boston Phoenix stated that "Cancer for Cure is definitely not El-P's Age of Apocalypse; in fact it's the only El-P production that sounds like it's been made on planet Earth, following hip-hop rules that someone else already defined."
The album was listed 15th on Stereogum's list of top 50 albums of 2012.