AKIPRESS.COM - The discovery is highly relevant to treating cancer, as radiotherapy can cause complications with these new organs and doctors need to take them into account, Sputnik reported.
Oncologists from the Netherlands have discovered new glands within the human face which they've dubbed tubarial glands. The research is published in the peer reviewed journal Radiotherapy and Oncology.
Seeking to learn more about cancer processes in the head and neck, researchers used scans with radioactive glucose which “highlighted” certain areas of the body.
They made use of positron emission tomography and computed tomography scans.
The oncologists scanned around 100 patients and cadavers and to their surprise, certain area of the face continued to glow. At first they decided that it was some kind of anomaly, but further investigation revealed that they were dealing with a whole new part of the human body.
The tubarial glands take part in the production of saliva within the mouth. The new organ is roughly the same size as the three main salivary glands. However, they are located on either side of the nasopharynx.
The discovery is consistent with the research team's main objective – to learn more about cancer. Radiotherapy that kills cancer cells may cause complications with salivary glands, including the newly discovered ones. The doctors will have to avoid targeting this new part of the face.
Previously it was believed that the salivary or mucous glands in the nasopharynx were much smaller and evenly spread throughout the mucosa.