Scientists in the Netherlands, who were carrying out research on prostate cancer, say they have identified a potential new organ in the human throat! The researchers were testing a new cancer scan when they uncovered a set of salivary glands deep in the upper part of the throat. Also Read - Arunachal Man Accidentally Swallows Toothbrush While Brushing, Undergoes Surgery to Remove It

“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 1000 are evenly spread out throughout the mucosa. So, imagine our surprise when we found these,” said Lead radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel.

They stumbled upon the new organ accidentally when they were using a combination of CT scans and positron emission tomography (PET) scans called PSMA PET-CT to study prostate cancer.

The researchers examined at least 100 patients to confirm the findings and reported that all of them had the glands.

”Histology and 3D reconstruction confirmed the presence of PSMA-expressing, predominantly mucous glands with multiple draining ducts, predominantly near the torus tubarius,” the journal said in its report.

“The human body contains a pair of previously overlooked and clinically relevant macroscopic salivary gland locations,” the study said while proposing to name it tubarial glands.

These newly-found set of salivary glands are likely being used for moistening and lubricating the upper parts of the throat. The doctors said the new discovery would help in cancer treatment since damage to these glands can impact the quality of life due to radiation impact.

Dr Wouter V Vogel of the NCI, one of the researchers involved in the study, told the New York Times the glands had remained undetected because of their location at the base of the skull. They are also small, he said, though visible to the human eye, so were only picked up by very sensitive imaging technology.