New Delhi | Jagran Trending Desk: In what could a huge discovery, scientists have 'accidentally' found an unknown set of salivary glands in the human body. The discovery, which was made by the researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, could help in treating cancers of head and neck.

According to a report by Live Science, the scientists have found the new set of glands in the nasopharyngeal region of the human body, which is behind the nose and above the throat. The discovery made after examining nearly 100 patients.

The scientists say that the glands are about 1.5 inches long and they lubricate and moisten the upper throat behind the nose and mouth. They have been named as "tubarial salivary glands".

However, they believe that more research is needed on them as they were discovered 'accidentally' while the scientists were studying prostate cancer. If confirmed, the scientists, say that this would be the first discovery of new salivary glands in 300 years.

"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," Wouter Vogel, a researcher said, as reported by Hindustan Times.

How this discovery would help in the treatment of cancer?

Scientists believe that this discovery would help in treating cancer patients. They say that this discovery would "translate to fewer side effects for cancer patients".

According to Vogel, doctors avoid irradiating the salivary glands because they can "impact the quality of life of a patient". However, the researchers believe that these glands can mitigate the side effects of radiation therapy, improving the "quality of life of cancer patients".

"Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients," Vogel was quoted as saying by Live Science.

"If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects, which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment," Vogel added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma