Science & Tech

Scientists accidentally discover that everyone has a hidden facial organ

'The Singing Oncologist' Dr. Steven Eisenberg uses music to soothe his patients

Many of us believe we’ve learned everything there is to know about the human body thanks to things like X-ray machines and other medical advancements.

However, scientists came a whole new organ they had no idea about.

It also happens to come as a pair and is located in our faces.

Earlier this year, oncologists from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam were on a quest to learn more about cancers affecting the neck and head.

And when they conducted their research, they stumbled across the “tubarial glands,” which were an unknown part of the face.

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A total of 100 patients were used in the study and were injected with radioactive glucose before they were scanned to identify tumours, which would shine brightly.

But the same two areas in the face continued to light up in each person.

This was when the scientists identified the “tubarial glands,” which are small organs responsible for producing saliva.

The journal Radiotherapy and Oncology notes that the glands are situated in the back of the nasopharynx.

That is the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

“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 radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel, the study’s author.

This discovery has been beneficial to the research team’s mission of radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills off cancer and shrinks tumours, but it can also cause problems for the salivary glands.

“Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden,” Vogel added.

Overall, as a result of finding these “tubarial glands,” radiotherapists will now better understand how to prevent radiation from reaching that part of the body to impediments.

Read more about the discovery here.

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