Amylase is an enzyme involved in the breakdown of polysaccharides (high molecular weight compounds). Polysaccharides are made up of hundreds or thousands of monosaccharides. The two most important polysaccharides are starch and cellulose.
In most cases, its levels rise in acute pancreatitis. In addition to amylase levels, lipase is also measured to diagnose acute pancreatitis. In case of pancreatitis, amylase levels can be as much as five to ten times the normal. Elevated amylase levels may also indicate pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, intestinal obstruction, perforated ulcer, or mumps.