While commonly known for degradation of the extracellular matrix, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) exhibit broad potential for use in targeting of bioactive and imaging agents in cancer treatment. MMPs are upregulated at all stages of expression in cancers. A comprehensive analysis of published literature on expression of all MMP subtypes at the genetic, protein, and activity levels in normal and diseased tissues indicate targeting applicability in a variety of cancers. This expression significantly increases at advanced cancer stages, providing an improved opportunity for controlled release in higher-stage patients. Since MMPs are integral at every stage of metastasis, MMP roles in cancer are discussed with a focus on MMP distribution and mobility within cells and tumors for cancer targeting applications. Several strategies for MMP utilization in targeting - such as matrix degradation, MMP cleavage, MMP binding, and MMP-induced environmental changes - are addressed.