Questions and Answers

Perhaps tumours are the tragic price we in the developed world pay for living in this lovely clean environment. Viruses that we would all normally catch when we are little babies (as is the case India and Papua New Guinea) we may not come into contact with till much later in life with devastating consequences.

I've listed below some questions I had in relation to my Dad's experience and the answers I arrived at through my research (as mentioned in the PDF I'm no medical professional so please check with you doctor)..


CMV and Brain Tumours

How did I catch CMV
(which led to a GBMIV)?

As a result of close contact with someone who was shedding the virus that allowed body fluids to pass from them to you, or from an organ transplant or from a blood transfusion.

Who did I catch it from?

Young children and people with suppressed immune systems such as those on chemotherapy are more likely to shed the virus than others and therefore are a likely source of infection but you might also have caught it from a new sexual partner.

Can I give CMV to someone else?

Yes possibly, especially if your immune system is suppressed as a result of chemotherapy for example.

Why did I develop a brain tumour when plenty of other CMV positive people don't?


I think CMv is like polio: when infected early in life there are no issues and the virus presents as a mild infection that you hardly notice, but when infected later in life the virus changes into the scary tumour causing version of the disease that leads to brain, breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancer.

One possible reason for the late infection link to tumours is the ageing of the immune system. As you age the thymus (where T cells mature) decays and causes a sharp decrease in the number and type of T cells produced. Therefore if your immune system is presented with a CMV infection late in life when T cell numbers are on the decline it cannot conquer the infection the way it would have when you were young, leaving you more vulnerable to developing the tumour causing version of the disease.

General Trends in CMV and Brain Tumours

Why are males of high socio-economic status most at risk of developing gliomas?

Males of high socio-economic status are more likely to be CMV negative and catch the virus later in life (possibly because they live in clean uncrowded environments and on average perhaps have less contact with children than females). Catching the virus late in life leads to tumours, according to the theory.

Why does the developed world have a greater incidence of brain tumours than the developing world?

Our super clean, uncrowded lifestyle in the developed world means we are more likely to be infected with CMV late in life, leading to a greater risk of developing the tumour causing version of the disease. While in the developing world the majority of the population is infected in their early childhood when the disease is only mild.