An Intersection for Concerted Care: Stanford Brain Tumor Center Debuts


The nurse coordinator said, 'We have a plan,' and she was so positive I thought, 'Okay, I'll go along with that.'

-Marjorie Paulson, patient, Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Marjorie Paulsen comes to the Stanford Brain Tumor Center every three months so her neuro-oncologist, Lawrence Recht, MD (right), can keep a close eye on her brain.

It makes a difference if you are treated at a place where they know what they're doing.

-Lawrence Recht, MD, Stanford Brain Tumor Center

For almost three decades, Marjorie Paulsen was a flight attendant, good at keeping calm under any circumstances. Learning that she had a brain tumor shook her.

  • Unlike the lungs or the abdomen, the brain is a closed box, so a tumor interferes with brain function by its sheer presence. It can also become part of the brain's tissue and disrupt function directly.
  • There are more than 120 types of brain tumor.
  • About one in three brain tumors develop because cancer has appeared in another part of the body, most often the lung or breast.
  • About one in three brain tumors are independent, originating first in the brain. One in three of those primary tumors are malignant.
  • A seizure can be the first sign of a tumor.
  • Symptoms reflect the location of a tumor. If a tumor is near the eyes, then vision will be affected; tumors near the brain stem, at the base of the skull, can cause trouble with speech. A tumor near the pituitary gland can disrupt the appetite.
  • Brain tumors can be large and slow-growing or small and fast-growing or vice versa.
  • Tumors can vary in consistency from tough and gristly to soft and soupy.

We think it's our job to take care of not just the medical issues, but the person and their family, too.

-Neurosurgeon Gordon Li, Stanford Brain Tumor Center

Marjorie Paulsen was home the day after her second surgery to remove a brain tumor. As sharp as ever, she's enjoying life with her family, including a good game of cards with her husband Jerry.