New human salivary glands discovered

The findings may have implications for radiotherapy, a cancer treatment that can cause damage to salivary glands and leave lasting complications. Doctors don’t regularly come across undiscovered bits of human anatomy, but a team of physicians recently reported a never-before-described set of salivary glands in patients’ necks. The first hint of this new gland emerged while Wouter Vogel, a radiation oncologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NCI), was probing for damage to salivary glands after radiotherapy for cancer in the head, neck, or brain — injuries that can lead to issues such as problems with digestion, speech, and an increase in oral infections. While going through these scans, he found something usual. Vogel was using a new technique for detecting cells in the salivary glands — PSMA PET/CT, a form of combined positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) that uses a radioactive tracer that binds to a prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA). This…