Dutch scientists have discovered a new pair of salivary glands hidden in the skull. According to the study, published in the journal Radiotherapy & Oncology on September 22, the presence of this organ was confirmed by means of high-resolution tomography scans in 100 patients with prostate cancer.
These glands are located in the region behind the nose, in the central area of the head. The team of researchers also investigated whether these structures were also present in two corpses (a woman and a man) – to the surprise of the specialists, both had this organ.
These new structures were named tubal glands and it is believed that they had not yet been identified due to the difficult location, as they are more hidden and in an area inaccessible in relation to the other glands. The hypothesis is that they help in lubricating the mouth and swallowing.
What are the benefits of discovery?
One of the possible benefits of these glands is for those who undergo radiation therapy to fight cancers in the head and neck, throat or tongue area. This therapeutic measure can damage the salivary glands and cause side effects, such as difficulty swallowing and speaking.
Scientists believe that they will be able to spare these new glands and make patients feel less discomfort caused by radiation therapy, and thus have a better quality of life.
Despite the discovery, the researchers reinforce that more studies need to be carried out to prove the functionality of the tubal glands.
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