The inelastic scattering of light, Raman scattering, presents a very low cross section. However, the signal can be amplified by several orders of magnitude, leading to the so-called surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) phenomenon. Basically, the SERS effect is achieved when the target molecule (analyte) is adsorbed onto metallic nanoparticles, usually noble metals. This article presents an overview of the applications of SERS to cancer diagnosis and the detection of pesticides, explosives, and drugs (illicit and pharmacological). SERS is routinely applied nowadays to detect and identify analytes at very low concentrations, including for single-molecule detection. However, the application of SERS as an analytical tool requires reliable and reproducible SERS substrates, in terms of enhancement factors, which depends on the size, shape, and aggregation of the metallic nanoparticles. Therefore, the production of reliable and reproducible SERS substrates is a challenge in the field. Besides, the metallic nanoparticles can also induce changes in the system by possible interactions with the analyte under investigation, which must be taken into account. This review will present work in which, under certain specific experimental conditions, SERS has been analytically applied.