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Pancreas Diseases

Expert care for all pancreas conditions

Located behind the stomach, the pancreas is 6 to 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. It combines two glands, exocrine and endocrine, in the same organ.

Most of the pancreas is part of the exocrine system. It makes enzymes to break down fats and proteins to help digest food in the intestines.

The smaller part of the pancreas is part of the endocrine system. It makes insulin, which decreases blood sugar, and glucagon, which increases blood sugar.

Conditions that may cause your pancreas to fail include:

Cystic fibrosis
This inherited disorder causes the mucous throughout the body to become thick and sticky. It affects the lungs, liver, intestines and pancreas. The mucous also can block ducts in your pancreas, preventing the digestive enzymes from reaching your small intestine.

Diabetes
The most common disorder of the pancreas is diabetes, which affects the endocrine system. Type 1 diabetes is most often the reason for pancreas transplantation.

Pancreatic cancer 
Tumors can form in both the exocrine and endocrine parts of the pancreas. Because pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect and resists treatment, it is very serious.

Pancreatitis
The pancreas can become inflamed when digestive enzymes, which are contained in tubes within the pancreas, leak to the rest of the pancreas and irritate it. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic.

Trauma or injury
Crushing or piercing injuries can damage any internal organ, including the pancreas. Because the pancreas is protected within the abdomen, this type of failure is rare.

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