Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has recently attracted much attention due to its ability to analyze biomolecular interactions and to detect certain biomolecules, which play a crucial role in disease expression. Despite recent studies reporting AFM imaging for the analyses of biomolecules, the application of AFM-based cancer-specific biomolecule/cell detection has remained largely underexplored, especially for the early diagnosis of cancer. In this paper, we review the recent attempts, including our efforts, to analyze and detect cancer-specific biomolecules and cancer cells. We particularly focus on two AFM-based cancer diagnosis techniques: (i) AFM imaging-based biomolecular and cellular detection, (ii) AFM cantilever-based biomolecular sensing and cell analysis. It is shown that AFM-based biomolecular detection has been applied for not only early diagnosing cancer, by measuring the minute amount of cancer-specific proteins, but also monitoring of cancer progression, by correlating the amount of cancer-specific proteins with the progression of cancer. In addition, AFM-based cell imaging and detection have been employed for diagnosing cancer, by detecting cancerous cells in tissue, as well as understanding cancer progression, by characterizing the dynamics of cancer cells. This review, therefore, highlights AFM-based biomolecule/cell detection, which will pave the way for developing a fast and point-of-care diagnostic system for biomedical applications.