The last decade has witnessed an emerging role for molecular or biochemical markers indicating a specific cellular mechanism or tissue function, often called ‘biomarkers’. Biomarkers such as altered DNA, proteins and inflammatory cytokines are critical in cancer research and strategizing treatment in the clinic. In this review we look at the application of biological indicators to cancer research and highlight their roles in cancer detection and treatment. With technological advances in gene expression, genomic and proteomic analysis, biomarker discovery is expanding fast. We focus on some of the predominantly used markers in different types of malignancies, their advantages, and their limitations. Finally we conclude by looking at the future of biomarkers, their utility in the tumorigenic studies, and the progress towards personalized treatment strategies.