The pancreas is a flat, pear-shaped gland behind the stomach, in the abdominal cavity. Approximately six inches long, it lies beside the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and small intestine. Not only does it play an important role in converting food into fuel, but it also produces and secretes hormones as part of the endocrine system. Often underappreciated, the pancreas carries out various functions, all of which are essential for health.
The pancreas is unique in that it is involved in both the digestive and endocrine systems. As part of the former, it secretes various enzymes into the small intestine, which help to break down food into smaller components for proper digestion and absorption. As an endocrine gland, it secretes two hormones that are crucial for metabolism in the body.
magicmine / Getty Images
Receive updates on the latest news and alerts straight to your inbox.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.