The pancreas is a digestive organ inside the abdomen. Examples of pancreatic disorders include pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and many others. The main purpose of the pancreas is the creation of digestive enzymes that are important for the digestive system. This primary portion of the pancreas is called the "exocrine pancreas". A second part of the pancreas is the "endocrine pancreas", which is a smaller portion that produces four major endocrine hormones, such as insulin and glucagon. Insulin is obviously well-known in relation to diabetes, and there is a close linkage between diabetes and the pancreas. Read more about: Pancreas Disorders, Diabetes, Pancreatitis

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The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum—the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with bile—a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder—to digest food.

The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

Normally, digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas do not become active until they reach the small intestine. But when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

Source: NIDDK (NIH)1

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  1. Source: NIDDK (NIH): health-information/ health-topics/ liver-disease/ pancreatitis/ Pages/ facts.aspx
  2. Source: RDCRN (NCATS/NIH): cms/ cegir/ Learn-More/ Glossary

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