VIDEO: Scientists stunned as they discover a new organ in the throat during cancer research
The new organ has been named ‘tubarial salivary glands', due to its location.
Scientists were left surprised as they accidentally discovered a new organ in the throat while they pursuing research on cancer. Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI) revealed that this new organ which comprises of salivary glands in the upper part of the throat.
Discovery of the ‘tubarial salivary glands’
The scientists stumbled upon this fascinating discovery while studying prostate cancer by using a combination of CT scans and PET scans.
PET scan can also identify salivary gland tissues, along with the detection of metastasized prostate cancer. This new set of salivary glands is located over a piece of cartilage called the ‘torus tubaris’ in the nasopharynx region, the upper part of the throat behind the nose, with each gland having a size of 1.5 inches. The new organ has been named ‘tubarial salivary glands’, due to its location. The glands keep the upper throat behind the nose and mouth moist.
Before this shocking new discovery, scientists thought that there were only three known large salivary glands in the body; one under the tongue, one under the jaw, and one at the back of the jaw. They were sure that the nasopharynx region only contains microscopic and diffuse salivary glands, as thousands of microscopic salivary glands are present all over the mucosal tissue in the throat and the mouth.
However, the spontaneous finding of the fourth set of large salivary glands shocked the NCI scientists. Radiation Oncologist at the NCI, Wouter Vogel, said that it’s hard to imagine the shock of the NCI scientists when they discovered these glands.
To confirm this, the scientists collected CT scans and PET scans of 100 patients and found the salivary glands to be present in every single one.
Treatment of Cancer
The discovery of these tubarial salivary glands will play a significant role in treating cancer, as until now, the doctors used radiation on the neck and head to treat it. They avoided the known three salivary glands since exposure to radiation can impact the quality of life and cause difficulty in swallowing and eating.
Since the new salivary glands were unknown before, doctors didn’t keep the nasopharynx region safe from harmful radiation. But now they will avoid exposing this area to radiation, which means that cancer patients will have to face fewer side effects in the future.
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