"Very little research has been done on salivary gland tumors, so there is a lot to discover – and that’s what I managed to do. This rare condition intrigued me during my training as a maxillofacial surgeon. Approximately 900 people in the Netherlands are diagnosed with this illness every year – and in 120 of them, the disease is malignant. I used techniques and methods that had never been applied to this condition before. There is, for example, a diagnostic technique used to detect prostate cancer cells, which also causes the salivary glands to light up on a PET scan. We used this technique to track down a new location with many saliva-producing cells at the back of the nasopharynx. This spot is often irradiated during treatment for head and neck cancer, which likely is the reason behind the major difficulties in swallowing that people often experience after this treatment."
Matthijs will defend his thesis on November 22.