About The Pancreas
The pancreas is an oblong flattened gland, about six inches long, located deep in the abdomen, sandwiched between the stomach and the spine. It has five main parts – the tail, body, neck, head, and uncinate process.
The pancreas is an integral part of the digestive system. It makes digestive enzymes and fluids which are released in the duodenum to help break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats. This is called the exocrine part of the pancreas.
Acute pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition of the pancreas that is painful and at times deadly. The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is stones in the gallbladder. Despite the great advances in critical care medicine over the past 20 years, the mortality rate of acute pancreatitis has remained at about 10%.
Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve—it gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage. Chronic pancreatitis eventually impairs a patient’s ability to digest food and make pancreatic hormones. The disease is more common in men and usually develops in persons between 30 and 40 years of age. Initially, chronic pancreatitis may be confused with acute pancreatitis because the symptoms are similar.
Diabetes is a disease of metabolism, which is the way your body uses food for energy and growth. It is specifically related to the body’s inability to use glucose. Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s levels of blood sugar and the hormone insulin are out of balance. It is one of the most common diseases in the United States, and it is estimated that one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050.
Hereditary pancreatitis is a genetic condition that’s characterized by recurrent episodes of inflammation of the pancreas that often progresses to chronic pancreatitis in early adulthood. Unlike most other forms of pancreatitis, patients with hereditary pancreatitis usually start to experience symptoms of acute pancreatitis in childhood.
Familial pancreatitis is used to describe families with a higher incidence of pancreatitis than expected by chance. A diagnosis of familial pancreatitis requires at least two or more first- or second-degree family members with idiopathic pancreatitis not attributed to obstructive or environmental causes.
Familial Chylomicronemia Syndrome (FCS) is a rare, genetic disorder of fat metabolism that is characterized by extremely high plasma triglyceride levels, which are 10 to 100 fold or more above normal. FCS is estimated to occur 1 in 1 to 2 million people. FCS can be diagnosed at any age and affects gender, race, and ethnicity equally.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men and the fifth in women. It accounts for more than 37,000 new cases per year in the United States. Cancer of the pancreas is resistant to many standard treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This cancer grows insidiously and initially does not cause symptoms.
Pediatric pancreatitis is a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed in children. There are two types of pediatric pancreatitis, acute and chronic. Once considered an uncommon disease in children, the incidence of pediatric acute pancreatitis has increased over the last 10 to 20 years and currently affects approximately 1 in 10,000 children.