A tapered gland that lies across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. The broadest part (head) is on the right-hand side. The main part (body) tapers from the head and extends horizontally. The narrowest part (tail) is on the left near the spleen. The pancreas has a digestive and a hormonal function. It mostly consists of exocrine tissue, which secretes digestive enzymes into the duodenum via the pancreatic duct. Also secreted is sodium bicarbonate, which neutralizes stomach acid entering the duodenum. The pancreas also contains groups of endocrine cells, called the islets of Langerhans, which secrete the hormones insulin and glucagon. These hormones regulate the level of glucose in the blood. The most common pancreatic disorder is diabetes mellitus.


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