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A random discovery was made by oncologists dealing with patients with prostate cancer. Surprisingly, they discovered a new organ in our skull.

Oncologists in the Netherlands are convinced they have found a pair of previously overlooked salivary glands hidden in our skulls. The discovery was made quite by accident - surgeon Matthijs H. Valstar is a surgeon in the department of head and neck oncology at the Dutch Cancer Institute. He performed head tomography on a patient with prostate cancer and found organs that had not been identified yet.

In a comment sent to CNN, prof. Joy Reidenberg, professor of anatomy at Mount Sinai University Hospital in New York, said the surgeon had enough knowledge to conclude that nothing had been indicated at this site so far.

Matthijs H. Valstar, while performing the tomography, noticed that, for unknown reasons, the area in the back of the nasopharynx was illuminated on the scan. Scientists have called it the tubarial glands.

The surgeon believes that these glands can cause complications in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. Doctors explain that radiation can damage this organ and lead to problems with swallowing or speaking.

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During positron tomography, the image is recorded on the basis of internal radiation from various chemical compounds labeled with radioactive isotopes. They are matched to each examination before administration to the patient depending on the imaging area. The effect of the action is bright illumination of neoplastic lesions. Doctors from the Dutch Cancer Institute illuminated two areas during the examination.

- Humans essentially have three pairs of large salivary glands, but not in this location. As far as we knew, the only existing salivary or mucous glands in the nasopharynx are microscopic. There are up to 1000 of them and they are evenly distributed over the mucosa surface. So imagine our surprise when we found them, said the second co-author of the study, oncologist Wouter Vogel, in a press release.

Research - how was a new organ discovered?

The author of the study, Matthijs H. Valstar, explains the resultthe studies were repeated in different groups of patients. They cannot be seen by conventional imaging methods such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging. Only the PSMA PET / CT technique used by Dutch oncologists allows this. Typically, this type of tomography is used to precisely determine the location of the neoplasm.

The existence of the glands was confirmed by the autopsy of a woman and a man.

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