One of the most common diseases, diabetes, has its cause related to Pancreas which is named after the Greek words ‘pan’ (all) and ‘kreas’ (flesh). This is a small and simple organ with multiple functions.

What is Pancreas?

Pancreas is a 12 cms to 15 cms long organ of the digestive system located behind the stomach, transversely. It is a soft, J-shaped organ that is responsible for secreting the insulin hormone.

What is it composed of?

It is comprises two glands, endocrine and exocrine glands which are made up of cells within Pancreas and outward cells of Pancreas, respectively, and a system of ducts. The endocrine region is known as Islets of Langerhans and the exocrine cells are known as Acinar cells. The small ducts merge to form the main duct known as pancreatic duct.

What are the various parts of Pancreas?

The J-shaped Pancreas is divided into five parts.

Uncinate process: It is the bent part of Pancreas that grows backward.

Head: It is the curved part on the right side of Pancreas which is also its widest part. It is close to the top part of the small intestine which is known as duodenum.

Neck: Continuing from the head is the thin and small neck.

Body: The middle portion of Pancreas which exactly lies behind the stomach is known as body.

Tail: It is the thin long part on the left end of Pancreas.

What does this gland produce and what are its functions?

The endocrine gland produces hormones, such as insulin, glucagon and somatostatin and the exocrine gland secretes digestives enzymes. The digestive enzymes that the Pancreas produced get into the blood and help in digestion by breaking down the carbohydrates, fats, proteins and acids. At the same time, the hormones, insulin and glucagon, regulate the sugar level in the blood, and the somatostatin regulates the production of these two hormones.

What are the pancreatic diseases?

The major pancreatic diseases are:

Pancreatitis: It is the inflammation of the Pancreas.

Pancreatic cancer: This cancer mostly grows on the exocrine region.

Diabetes mellitus: In this case, there is a dangerous rise in the patient’s blood sugar levels.

What disorders in the Pancreas cause these diseases?

Pancreatitis is mainly caused due to the rupture of the pancreatic duct and leakage of the pancreatic fluids which lead to self-digestion of the Pancreas itself. Pancreatic cancers are caused due to the changes in the DNA of the pancreatic cells or due to hereditary factors. Some of the major causes of Diabetes are obesity, hereditary or improper insulin secretion.

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