Very interesting article about an assay for cancer-causing mutations in eye-lid skin cells from tissue removed during routine cosmetic surgery. Although none of the skin samples were considered to actually have skin cancer many patches, or local clones, of cells showed one or more of the common "driver" mutations which propel normal cells to cancer. The article refers to research by Peter Campbell in Cambridge, who is one of the world's leading authorities on cancer /malignancy progression. Here's a further link to an Alphagalileo entry for the same research. http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=152940&CultureCode=en
The article contains several quotes from British cancer expert Mel Greaves, who was not involved in this research, where he echoes remarks on cancer progression he has made to me in the past and which I have included in my cancer chapter in Body by Darwin. Mel refers to the naevi or liver spots which commonly pepper the skin of middle-aged and elderly people. Sample them, he says, and you are sure to turn up many instances of mutations to several genes, including p53, which, when functioning normally, causes cells to die if they have accumulated mutational damage. But the cells will not necessarily have yet become cancerous - and they may never do so.
The original Science paper is behind a pay-wall but here is a link to the abstract:http://www.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/880?utm_src=email