War against cancer constantly requires new affinity tools to selectively detect, localize, and quantify biomarkers for diagnosis or prognosis. Herein, carbon nanodots (CDs), an emerging class of fluorescent nanomaterials, coupled with molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), are employed as a biocompatible optical imaging tool for probing cancer biomarkers. First, N-doped CDs were prepared by hydrothermal synthesis using starch as carbon source and Ltryptophan as nitrogen atom provider to achieve a high quantum yield of 25.1 +/- 2%. The CDs have a typical size of similar to 3.2 nm and produce an intense fluorescence at 450 nm upon excitation with UV light. A MIP shell for specific recognition of glucuronic acid (GlcA) was then synthesized around the CDs, using the emission of the CDs as an internal light source for photopolymerization. GlcA is a substructure (epitope) of hyaluronan, a biomarker for certain cancers. The biotargeting and bioimaging of hyaluronan on fixated human cervical cancer cells using CD core-MIP shell nanocomposites is demonstrated. Human keratinocytes were used as noncancerous reference cells and indeed, less staining was observed by the CD-MIP.