In September 2020, Dutch doctors discovered the hidden tubarial salivary glands under the nose. This accidental finding may improve cancer treatment outcomes as researchers seek to safeguard these glands during radiation therapy.
Scientists Accidentally Discovered A New Organ In The Human Body
By now, you would think that we would be well knowledgeable about our bodies and that we would be experts in our biology in the scientific community.
However, it seems not. There is yet more to learn, even about the body we occupy on a daily basis.
Discovering a whole new organ is what I mean, not just a little area.
That's just what a group of Dutch doctors did when they discovered, quite by mistake, that humans possessed a second organ back in September 2020 while researching prostate cancer.
As it happens, this secret organ was hiding behind—or rather, directly beneath—our noses the entire time.
Yes, it is situated directly beneath the face inside our own heads.
More In Science and Technology
Considering there are two distinct ends of the body, you might be wondering how a team studying prostate cancer finds an organ in the human brain at this point.
Everything started to go wrong when the cancer researchers gave patients injections of radioactive glucose, which caused tumors to glow on CT and PET scans.
The Netherlands Cancer Institute team saw that two regions of the patients' heads were glowing a lot, and they concluded that these were a group of salivary glands hidden away.
The organ was named after its discoverers, the tubarial salivary glands, and to be more specific, they are located in the nook where the neck and nasal cavity meet behind the nose.
According to their intended function, this organ that was unintentionally found lubricates and moistens the area of the throat behind the mouth and nose.
The scientists were shocked to learn about the glands and were baffled as to how they managed to go unnoticed for such a long time.
According to Dr. Wouter Vogel, a radiation oncologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the main reasons they have remained concealed for this long are because they are 'not very accessible' and require ' extremely sensitive imaging' to detect.
He said: "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 1,000 are evenly spread out throughout the mucosa. So, imagine our surprise when we found these."
Finding this organ may contribute to the understanding of why patients receiving radiation therapy frequently have dry mouths and difficulty swallowing afterward.
Due to ignorance of their existence, Dr. Vogel stated that 'nobody ever sought to spare them' and that a single misguided zap' may cause irreparable harm to the organ.
Despite the fact that the discovery was unintentional, researchers expect that eventually, their research can reduce the issues that cancer patients have following radiation therapy since they believe that the tubarial salivary glands play a major role in many treatment-related complications.
Now that they are aware of this organ, the "next step" is to determine how to handle radiation therapy without endangering it.
People who need radiation therapy may live longer and with greater quality of life if the specialists can solve that one.