Which organs do not produce hormones?

What is pancreatic cancer?

The pancreas is a gland that produces digestive juices and hormones. Pancreatic cancer is when abnormal cells in the pancreas start to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way and forms a growth (tumour).

The cancer cells can grow into surrounding blood vessels or organs such as the small bowel (duodenum). And may spread to other areas of the body.

The pancreas

The pancreas is part of the digestive system.

Diagram showing where the pancreas is in the body in relation to the other organs. This includes the stomach, liver, bowel and gallbladder.

The pancreas is quite high up in your abdomen. It lies across your body where your ribs meet at the bottom of your breastbone, just behind your stomach. It is about 6 inches (15 centimetres) long and shaped like a leaf.

Diagram showing 3 parts of the pancreas

  • the wide end is called the head
  • the thin end is called the tail
  • the bit in the middle is called the body

The pancreas is a large gland that makes digestive juices and hormones, including insulin. The digestive juices flow down a tube (pancreatic duct) into the duodenum. The duodenum is the first part of the small bowel and is joined to the stomach.

Another tube (duct) joins the duodenum. The bile duct comes down from the gallbladder and liver and joins the duodenum right next to the pancreatic duct. The place where the two ducts join and meet the bowel is called the ampulla of Vater.

Diagram showing the position of the pancreatic duct in the head of the pancreas

Watch this 2 minute video to explain what the pancreas is.