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What causes an enlarged pancreas?

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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. However, 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. However, 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.
  • An 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.

SOURCES:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse web site: "Pancreatitis"

MedlinePlus: "Pancreatitis" and "Pancreatic Cancer."

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on May 15, 2019

SOURCES:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse web site: "Pancreatitis"

MedlinePlus: "Pancreatitis" and "Pancreatic Cancer."

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri on May 15, 2019

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What are the symptoms of an enlarged pancreas?

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