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Scientists discovered new glands in human throat

Scientists from the Netherlands say they have identified a potential new organ in the human throat, British daily The Independent reports.
Researchers say the newly discovered set of salivary glands is likely used to moisturize and lubricate the upper parts of the throat and that they stumbled upon them while carrying out prostate cancer research. The conclusions were published in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology by a team of researchers, including from the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Focus reports.

According to the results of the study, the throat in humans contains “previously neglected bilateral macroscopic salivary glands”. Scientists examined at least 100 patients to confirm their findings and found that they all had similar glands.

The new glands were discovered while scientists scanned for prostate cancer. In the technique used, doctors injected into the patient a radioactive indicator that binds well to a protein known as PSMA, which is elevated in prostate cancer cells. This combination of scanning is also good for detecting salivary gland tissues, also high in PSMA.

Doctors using radiotherapy to treat head and neck cancers try to avoid major salivary glands as their damage can make it difficult for patients to feed, talk or swallow. But these newly discovered glands were affected by radiation because doctors were not aware of their existence, resulting in patients complaining of unexplained side effects.

The study says that sparing these glands in patients receiving radiotherapy may provide an opportunity to improve their quality of life.

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