Medical imaging plays a critical role in cancer diagnosis and planning. Many of these patients rely on surgical intervention for curative outcomes. This requires a careful identification of the primary and microscopic tumors, and the complete removal of cancer. Although there have been efforts to adapt traditional-imaging modalities for intraoperative image guidance, they suffer from several constraints such as large hardware footprint, high-operation cost, and disruption of the surgical workflow. Because of the ease of image acquisition, relatively low-cost devices and intuitive operation, optical imaging methods have received tremendous interests for use in real-time image-guided surgery. To improve imaging depth under low interference by tissue autofluorescence, many of these applications utilize light in the near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths, which is invisible to human eyes. With the availability of a wide selection of tumor-avid contrast agents, advancements in imaging sensors, electronic and optical designs, surgeons are able to combine different attributes of NIR optical imaging techniques to improve treatment outcomes. The emergence of diverse commercial and experimental image guidance systems, which are in various stages of clinical translation, attests to the potential high impact of intraoperative optical imaging methods to improve speed of oncologic surgery with high accuracy and minimal margin positivity.