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Pancreatitis is the inflammation and auto-digestion of the pancreas. Auto-digestion describes a process whereby pancreatic enzymes destroy its own tissue. This causes swelling, bleeding (hemorrhage), and damage to the pancreas and its blood vessels. Acute pancreatitis usually involves a single "attack," after which the pancreas returns to normal. Left untreated or insufficiently treated, acute pancreatitis can be a life-threatening illness with serious complications. If you think you are suffering from acute pancreatitis, seek immediate medical attention.
Chronic pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that does not heal or improve - it gets worse over time and leads to permanent damage. Chronic pancreatitis, like acute pancreatitis, occurs when digestive enzymes attack the pancreas and nearby tissues, causing episodes of pain. Chronic pancreatitis often develops in people who are between the ages of 30 and 40.
Pancreatic cysts are masses found in the pancreas. Unlike cysts in other organs, many pancreatic cysts can be clinically significant, in that they can cause pain or have the potential to become cancer. Therefore, it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis when a pancreatic cyst is suspected or discovered.