During transformation of a normal cell to a cell capable of forming a cancerous growth, cellular morphology, the cytoskeleton, and focal contacts undergo significant changes. These changes should be capable of being characterized via real-time monitoring of the dynamic cell adhesion process and viscoelastic properties of cells. Here, we describe use of the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) to distinguish the dynamic cell adhesion signatures of human normal (HMEC) versus malignant (MCF-7) mammary epithelial cells. The significantly reduced QCM responses (changes in frequency [Δf] and motional resistance ΔR) of MCF-7 cells compared with those of HMECs mirror the cancer cells' morphological features as observed via optical microscope. We analyzed the initial 2-h cell adhesion kinetics, suggesting cell-cell cooperativity for HMECs and no or weak cell-cell interactions for MCF-7 cells. We propose that changes of the ΔR/Δf ratio, which we term the cell viscoelastic index (CVI), reflect the establishment of cytoskeleton structure and dynamic viscoelastic properties of living cells. The CVI decreases significantly on initiation of cell to surface interactions as cells establish their cytoskeletal structures. During the cell adhesion process, MCF-7 cells were consistently softer, exhibiting up to a 2.5-fold smaller CVI when compared with HMECs.