Advances in cancer nanotechnology had led to the development of various theranostics (therapy and diagnosis) strategies, by incorporating multifunctional approaches for trafficking against deadly cancer disease. In metastatic relapsed cancers, cancer stem cells (CSCs) exhibits drug resistance towards several therapies leading to their increased self-renewal, proliferation and differentiation. Hence, designing an effective strategy by employing the use of smart nanotheranostics can eliminate CSCs with the ultimate goal of enhancing the survival of cancer patients and offering a quality life. This review compiles the recent nanotheranostics strategies that are being employed for diagnosis, imaging and therapy of CSCs for circumventing the chances of cancer recurrence. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.