A Visual Guide to Understanding Pancreatic Cancer


12What is the Pancreas?

Posterior view of the digestive system

The pancreas is a 6-inch-long spongy, tube-shaped organ located in the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. It has two major jobs in the body: to make digestive juices (enzymes) that help the intestines break down food, and to produce hormones — including insulin — that regulate the body’s use of sugars and starches. Pancreatic cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells grow, divide, and spread in the tissues of the pancreas.