Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Enlarged Pancreas: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

An enlarged pancreas can occur for many reasons. The pancreas is a gland that sits behind your stomach in the upper abdomen and helps with digestion. It produces enzymes that are secreted into the small intestine, digesting protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The pancreas also produces insulin to help regulate blood sugar (glucose), the body's main source of energy.

Causes of an Enlarged Pancreas

An enlarged pancreas may mean nothing. You may simply have a pancreas that is larger than normal. Or, it can be because of an anatomic abnormality. But other causes of an enlarged pancreas may include the following:

  • Pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes become active inside the pancreas, attacking and damaging its tissues. This can cause an enlarged pancreas.
  • Acute pancreatitis is inflammation that occurs suddenly in the pancreas. It can be very serious, even life-threatening. But it usually goes away within a few days of treatment. Gallstones and alcohol are common causes of acute pancreatitis. Other causes include high levels of fats in the blood, certain drugs, certain medical procedures, and some infections.
  • Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation that gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage in the pancreas. Heavy alcohol use is the most common cause. Other causes include heredity, cystic fibrosis, high levels of calcium or fats in the blood, certain medications, and some autoimmune conditions.
  • Pancreatic pseudocyst is an accumulation of fluid and tissue debris in the pancreas, which can occur after a case of pancreatitis.
  • Cystadenoma is a tumor that is usually benign.
  • Abscess is a pus-filled cavity, usually caused by a bacterial infection. A pancreatic pseudocyst that becomes infected can become an abscess.
  • Pancreatic cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the pancreas that can spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of an Enlarged Pancreas

Pain in the upper abdomen is a common symptom. Pain may spread to the back and feel worse when you're eating and drinking, such as in cases of pancreatitis. See a doctor right away if you have these symptoms.

Other causes of an enlarged pancreas may produce few or no symptoms at all. Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the deadliest cancers. It is difficult to catch at an early stage because of its usual lack of symptoms.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
top foods for probiotics
couple eating at cafe
sick child
Woman blowing bubble gum

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Woman with stomach pain
diet for diverticulitis
what causes diarrhea