Gastric cancer affects annually more than 800 000 individuals worldwide and remains a challenge for clinicians and oncologists. Most patients with gastric cancer are diagnosed in advanced stages, when a curative resection is impossible, which leads to an overall poor prognosis. Finding new diagnostic and treatment procedures is of paramount importance to improve patient prognosis, which will be improved most dramatically by techniques that allow the detection of gastric cancer in its early stages. So far the value of conventional tumour markers such as Ca72-4 or carcinoembryonic antigen is limited, and even markers developed from molecular biological studies on the carcinogenesis of gastric cancer, such as E-cadherin and others, have not proved to be of adequate sensitivity and specificity to allow the early detection of gastric cancer. With the development of innovative diagnostic tools, such as proteome analysis, new biomarkers may be identified that may allow early diagnosis and thus screening for gastric cancer, particularly in at-risk patient populations. Recent studies have indicated that these biomarkers may be derived from the tumour itself or reflect a specific metabolic or immunological response to cancer that can be used to find gastric cancer patients at an early and putatively curative stage of the disease.