The Netherlands Cancer Institute
The new discovery has been named the tubarial salivary glands.
A group of scientists announced a new discovery this week: extra organs in your head.
According to a new study from the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology, researchers discovered a new set of salivary glands, about 3.81 cm in length, behind the nose.
The new glands, named tubarial salivary glands, are believed to lubricate and moisten the area of the throat behind the nose and mouth and are found where the nasal cavity meets the throat.
The discovery was accidentally made by researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute who were studying prostate cancer and examining a new combination of CT and PET scans called PSMA PET-CT that they believe better detects metastasized prostate cancer than other scanning techniques.
However, the specific protein the researchers were looking for, PSMA, which is found in prostate cancer patients, also tends to be found near salivary gland tissue.
Prior to this discovery, humans were thought to have thousands of microscopic salivary glands in tissue of the mouth and throat along with three major, larger ones: one under the tongue, one under the jaw and behind the ears. The new glands represent a fourth large set of salivary glands.
Aside from updates that will be needed for anatomy textbooks, the researchers also think the discovery will have therapeutic and quality-of-life benefits for cancer patients since part of radiation therapy consists of avoiding the several areas of the mouth with treatment since damaged salivary glands can make it more difficult for patients to eat and speak.
– New York Daily News