Mina Bissell's groundbreaking research has proven that cancer is not only caused by cancer cells. It is caused by an interaction between cancer cells and the surrounding cellular micro-environment. In healthy bodies, normal tissue homeostasis and architecture inhibit the progression of cancers. But changes in the microenvironment--following an injury or a wound for instance--can shift the balance. This explains why many people harbor potentially malignant tumors in their bodies without knowing it and never develop cancer, and why tumors often develop when tissue is damaged or when the immune system is suppressed.
The converse can also be true. In a landmark 1997 experiment, mutated mammary cells, when dosed with an antibody and placed into a normal cellular micro-environment, behaved normally. This powerful insight from Bissell's lab may lead to new ways of treating existing and preventing potential cancers.