The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center

Parts of Pancreas

Your doctor may refer to different anatomic parts of the pancreas when discussing your disease. The part of the pancreas that a tumor arises in will affect the symptoms it causes and how it is treated. The pancreas is divided into four main parts.

Diagram showing pancreas parts

The Shape of the Pancreas

head The head is the widest part of the pancreas. The head of the pancreas is found in the right side of abdomen, nestled in the curve of the duodenum. Using the hand analogy from earlier, the head of the pancreas corresponds to the palm of your hand.
uncinate process The uncinate is the part of the head of the pancreas that hooks towards the back of the abdomen. The uncinate hooks around two very important blood vessels, the superior mesenteric artery and the superior mesenteric vein. Again, using the hand anaology, the uncinate would correspond to your pinkie and thumb.
neck The neck is the thin section of the gland between the head and the body of the pancreas. Using the hand analogy, the neck corresponds to your first knuckles.
body The body is the middle part of the pancreas between the neck and the tail. The superior mesenteric artery and vein run behind this part of the pancreas. Using the hand analogy, the body corresponds to the middle of your fingers.
tail The tail is the thin tip of the pancreas in the left side of the abdomen, in close proximity with the spleen. Using the hand analogy, the tail corresponds to the tips of your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers.