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Pancreatic Cancer (cont.)

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What does a pancreas do?

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that sits in front of the spine above the level of the belly button. It performs two main functions:

  • first, it makes insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels (an endocrine function); and
  • second, it makes and secretes into the intestine digestive enzymes which help break down dietary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (an exocrine function).

The enzymes help digestion by chopping proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into smaller parts so that they can be more easily absorbed by the body and used as building blocks for tissues and for energy. Enzymes leave the pancreas via a system of tubes called "ducts" that connect the pancreas to the intestines where the enzymes mix with ingested food.

The pancreas sits deep in the abdomen and is in close proximity to many important structures such as the small intestine (the duodenum) and the bile ducts, as well as important blood vessels and nerves.

Picture of the anatomy of the pancreas.
Cancer that starts in the pancreas is called pancreatic cancer. This picture of the pancreas shows its location in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/26/2017

Source: MedicineNet.com
https://www.medicinenet.com/pancreatic_cancer/article.htm

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