What is Pancreas?
Pancreas (plural: pancreata) is a long, flat gland present in the belly. It is a vital part of the digestive system and is responsible for regulating 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.
Where is the pancreas located?
The pancreas is found 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.
A healthy pancreas produces chemicals in appropriate quantities to digest the food.
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.
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 and insulin. Glucagon is responsible for raising blood sugar, and insulin does the contrary, i.e., lower blood sugar.
Due to the 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 adenocarcinoma is one of the most common forms of pancreatic cancer. It is an exocrine tumour that arises from the cells that line the pancreatic duct. A tumour of the endocrine gland accounts for less than 5% of all pancreatic tumours and is referred to as islet or neuroendocrine.
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