The pancreas is a glandular organ that produces a number of hormones essential to the body. It forms an integral part of the digestive system.

The pancreas is located below and behind the stomach, in the curve of the duodenum, which is a part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes fluids that help break down food in the small intestine, along with bile and other fluids that aid the metabolism of fats and proteins.

The pancreas is also critical to the production of insulin and glucagon, which regulate glucose levels in the blood. If the pancreas stops producing insulin, this leads to diabetes and a number of associated health issues.

Other problems that concern the pancreas include pancreatic cancer. This is a particularly hard cancer to spot since the tumor generally is not palpable (it can’t be felt) due to the positioning of the pancreas. People with pancreatic cancer generally only start to display symptoms when the tumor becomes large enough to interfere with its neighboring organs.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Pancreas

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