What is pancreatic cancer?
The pancreas is made up of exocrine cells and endocrine cells. These cells have different functions.
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Most of the cells in the pancreas are exocrine cells. Exocrine cells make and release pancreatic juice. The juice travels through the pancreatic duct into the duodenum. Enzymes in the pancreatic juice help digest fat, carbohydrates and protein in food.
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A small number of the cells in the pancreas are endocrine cells. They are arranged in clusters called islets, or islets of Langerhans. The islets make and release insulin and glucagon into the blood. These hormones help control the level of sugar, or glucose, in the blood.
Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in the blood when the blood sugar is high. It stimulates the liver, muscles and fatty tissues to absorb and store the extra blood sugar.
Glucagon increases the amount of sugar in the blood when the blood sugar is low. It stimulates the liver and other body tissues to release stored sugar into the blood.
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