What is Pancreas?

Pancreas is a long, flat gland present in the belly. It is a vital part of the digestive system and a controller of blood sugar levels. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes such as proteases, amylase and lipase into the duodenum. These enzymes help to digest proteins, sugars and fat respectively. Islets of Langerhans are embedded in the pancreas that secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon into the blood.



Location of Pancreas

The pancreas is placed deep in the abdomen. A part of it is placed between the stomach and the spine. The other part finds its place in the curve of the first section of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. You could visualize its position by touching your right ‘pinkie’ fingers together and keep the other three fingers together and straight. Then, keep your hand in the center of your belly just below lower ribs with your fingers pointing to your left. Your hands will be at the approximate level and shape of your pancreas.

Functions of Pancreas

A healthy pancreas produces chemicals in appropriate quantities to digest the food.

Exocrine Function:

The pancreas consists of exocrine glands that create enzymes which are essential for digestion. These enzymes contain chymotrypsin and trypsin to digest proteins. Amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates and lipase breaks down fats. These pancreatic juices are liberated into a system of ducts and culminated in the pancreatic duct when the food enters the stomach.

Endocrine Function:

The endocrine part of the pancreas includes islet cells that produce and liberate necessary hormones into the bloodstream. Two of the main pancreatic hormones are glucagon which acts to raise blood sugar, and insulin, which works to lower blood sugar.

Pancreatic Problems

Due to inaccessibility of pancreas, the evaluation of pancreatic diseases could be difficult.

Disorders that affect the pancreas include precancerous conditions, pancreatitis, and pancreatic cancer. Each disorder exhibits different symptoms and needs different treatments.


Pancreatitis is swelling when the pancreatic enzyme is secreted and begins to digest the organ itself. It could exist as painful attacks or a chronic condition that lasts for years.

Precursors to Pancreatic Cancer

The primary reason for pancreatic cancer is yet to be known, but there are risk factors that increase the danger of developing the diseases. Some of the factors include smoking or hereditary cancer syndromes.

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is one of the most common forms of pancreatic cancer. It is an exocrine tumor that arises from the cells that line the pancreatic duct. The endocrine tumor accounts for less than 5% of all pancreatic tumors and is referred to as islet or neuroendocrine.

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