For more information, call: 573-331-3000

Head & Neck Cancers

Head & Neck Cancer Facts

Head and neck cancers include thyroid cancer, mouth cancer, larynx cancer, pharynx cancer, and as well as other tumors affecting the head and neck. The larynx contains the vocal chords and the pharynx is the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach. Thyroid cancer is perhaps the best known of this group of carcinomas. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the lower portion of the neck. If you have hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, persistent coughing or a lump on your neck, you could be exhibiting early symptoms of thyroid cancer.


Because thyroid cancer is mostly genetically-linked, you cannot prevent it. However, you can help determine your risk for contracting this disease through a genetic counseling consultation. Other head and neck cancers may be preventable. Heavy consumption of alcohol has been linked to mouth cancer, larynx cancer, pharynx cancer and esophageal cancer. Smoking may cause mouth and throat cancer. Smoking cessation and moderation in alcohol consumption can decrease your chances of getting these cancers. Saint Francis offers oral screenings to diagnose oral cancer.


Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau uses a team approach to diagnose thyroid cancer in its earliest stages. From Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to Positron Emission Tomography (PET), we offer the latest technology to detect the first signs of throat cancer. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of thyroid cancer, we recommend the following tests:

  • MRI
  • PET scan
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • PET F18 Bone Survey
  • Surgical biopsy
  • Endoscopy
  • Ultrasound


Saint Francis provides several treatments for thyroid cancer and related cancers, including:

  • Surgery
  • CyberKnife® Robotic RadioSurgery System
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Support Groups

Saint Francis Medical Center offers the I Can Cope program to head and neck cancer patients and their families. This program gives patients an opportunity to share their concerns with others having similar experiences and to help them design ways to cope with the challenges that arise from a cancer diagnosis. Speakers include healthcare professionals in cancer management. Videos, print materials and discussions provide up-to-date information for patients and their families and friends.

I Can Cope meets the third Wednesday of every month from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Saint Francis Cancer Institute. To learn more about I Can Cope, call 573-334-2230.