The pancreas is a grayish-pink gland weighing about three ounces and measuring six to nine inches. It extends from the small intestine to the spleen, directly behind the stomach. The pancreas has two functions. It makes a variety of hormones including insulin, which regulates blood sugar. The pancreas also secretes enzymes through the pancreatic duct into the common bile duct. The enzymes empty into the small intestine through an opening called the Ampulla of Vater. These enzymes help with food digestion and neutralize acid from the stomach. If a tumor develops in the head of the pancreas it can block the common bile duct and you will be come jaundice (your skin and the whites of your eyes might become yellow from the bile backing up in your system). Your urine may also become dark and your stools may become light in color.
For more information, visit Spectrum Health's website or call 855-SH-CANCER.