A set of salivary glands has been identified by the researchers of the Netherlands Cancer Institute recently which lubricate the upper throat behind the nose and the mouth. This makes us believe that there are many more mysterious organs present in the human body which are still not identified by us.
The organ was identified by an accident. It is well known that treatments of the patient with head and neck cancer, along with tumors in the throat or tongue, are done with radiation therapy. The group of researchers who identified it was examining patients with prostate cancer. Vogel and Valstar from Netherlands Cancer Institute examined the side effects of radiation that people would have on the head and neck.
Radiation therapist Vogel says “Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands, which may lead to complications”. He also said, “Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden.”
A progressive visual representation called PSMA PET/CT (prostate-specific membrane antigen positron emission tomography/computerized tomography ) was applied by them. PSTA is called the marker for prostate cancer but this time something else was also marked.
Vogel also adds up, “People have three sets of large salivary glands, but not there.”
“As far as we knew, the only salivary or mucous glands in the nasopharynx are microscopically small, and up to 1000 are evenly spread out throughout the mucosa. So, imagine our surprise when we found these.”
With the joint effort of their teammates, it found out that all the 100 people’s scans that they analyzed had a set of these glands in them. It is named as tubarial salivary glands due to their location over a piece of cartilage known as torus tubarius.
“The two new areas that lit up turned out to have other characteristics of salivary glands, as well,” says Valstar. It was found in the two human bodies they examined together. Valstar said, “We call them tubarial glands, referring to their anatomical location.”
As salivary glands would be affected by radioactive destruction the team suggested avoiding this region during radiation therapy. The new analysis is also believed to benefit cancer patients. Vogel’s opinion at the end of the research as he stated is “For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands.”
Adding to it he said “Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience fewer side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment.”