The pancreas is one of the internal bodily organs. It performs both endocrine and exocrine functions. Its endocrine function is primarily the secretion of the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar. Its exocrine function is the secretion of digestive enzymes into the duodenum whereby they break down food into their various component molecules.
Diabetes mellitus is a common result of the failure of the endocrine pancreas, causing insufficient insulin to be secreted to adequately control blood glucose levels. Failure of the exocrine pancreas can occur in early childhood, often as a consequence of cystic fibrosis as the secretory ducts fail to function correctly, leading to deficient secretion of digestive enzymes.
Pancreatitis is a relatively common disease of the pancreas, most commonly associated with disease of excess (such as gallstones and alcoholism), and is an excruciatingly painful inflammation causing abdominal pain commonly described as being the worst pain imaginable by sufferers.