Human telomeres are composed of long repeating sequences of TTAGGG, associated with a variety of telomere-binding proteins. Its function as an end-protector of chromosomes prevents the chromosome from end-to-end fusion, recombination and degradation. Telomerase acts as reverse transcriptase in the elongation of telomeres, which prevent the loss of telomeres due to the end replication problems. However, telomerase activity is detected at low level in somatic cells and high level in embryonic stem cells and tumor cells. It confers immortality to embryonic stem cells and tumor cells. In most tumor cells, telomeres are extremely short and stable. Telomere length is an important indicator of the telomerase activity in tumor cells and it may be used in the prognosis of malignancy. Thus, the assessment of telomeres length is of great experimental and clinical significance. This review describes the role of telomere and telomerase in cancer pathogenesis and the dynamics of the telomeres length in different cell types. The various methods of measurement of telomeres length, i.e. southern blot, hybridization protection assay, fluorescence in situ hybridization, primed in situ, quantitative PCR and single telomere length analysis are discussed. The principle and comparative evaluation of these methods are reviewed. The detection of G-strand overhang by telomeric-oligonucleotide ligation assay, primer extension/nick translation assay and electron microscopy are briefly discussed.