Piwi interacting RNAs (piRNAs) constitute novel small non-coding RNA molecules of approximately 24–31 nucleotides in length that often bind to members of the piwi protein family to play regulatory roles. Recently, emerging evidence suggests that in addition to the mammalian germline, piRNAs are also expressed in a tissue-specific manner in a variety of human tissues and modulate key signaling pathways at the transcriptional or post-transcriptional level. In addition, a growing number of studies have shown that piRNA and PIWI proteins, which are abnormally expressed in various cancers, may serve as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for tumor diagnostics and treatment. However, the functions of piRNAs in cancer and their underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. In this review, we discuss current findings regarding piRNA biogenetic processes, functions, and emerging roles in cancer, providing new insights regarding the potential applications of piRNAs and piwi proteins in cancer diagnosis and clinical treatment.