World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Functions and facts of the pancreas - a vital organ

It plays a central role in digestion and the regulation of blood sugar:

  • Exocrine function: production of digestive enzymes which split vitally essential proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the colon.
  • Endocrine function: production of hormones like insulin and glucagon, which regulate the blood sugar level. Produktion von Hormonen wie Insulin und Glukagon, die den Blutzuckerspiegel kontrollieren.

The pancreas lies in the middle of the upper abdomen between spleen, liver and stomach in a c-shaped loop of the duodenum, fixed to the back wall of the abdomen and connected to the gall bladder.

The pancreas can be divided into three parts: head, body and tail. It is 15-20cm long, around 3 – 3.5cm broad and weighs between 60 and 70 grams. The pancreas is fed by three large blood vessels: abdominal aorta, intestinal artery and spleen artery.

Warning signals of a pancreatic illness could be:

Loss of appetite, indisposition, faintness, depression, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, steatorrhea (fatty stools), unintentional weight loss, a feeling of pressure in the upper abdomen or back pain at belt height, signs of jaundice and blood sugar lapses.