This is about pain on the upper right side of the stomach that occurs after eating.

Cancer is one possible cause, but it’s not the most likely cause.

First off, if you’ve been experiencing any kind of sharp abdominal pain (upper, lower, left, right side, whatever) after eating, you should make an appointment with your doctor right away.

This is highly abnormal and, though not likely to be cancer (especially if there are no other symptoms), can still be a serious problem.

Causes of Severe Pain on the Right Side After Eating

“Right sided pain after eating, particularly right upper abdominal pain associated with intake of fatty meals, can sometimes be indicative of pathology in the gallbladder,” explains Dr. Neil Sengupta, MD, a general gastroenterologist and assistant professor at the University of Chicago, and GI Research Foundation Scholars Award Recipient.

“Gallstones can cause symptoms where patients have dull pain in the upper abdomen or right side which can radiate to the shoulder, and typically begins after eating and can last a few hours.”

When a “gallstone attack” occurs, the pain is typically described as severe or sharp, and is not usually triggered by eating.

Gallstones are a potentially serious problem – which is why for some patients, surgery to remove the gallbladder is recommended.

An ultrasound of one’s abdomen will reveal the stones.

“Severe pain in the right upper quadrant can also be indicative of an abnormality with the liver or pancreas, and typically requires evaluation with lab work and/or abdominal imaging,” says Dr. Sengupta.

Cancer As a Cause of Upper Right Abdominal Pain Associated with Eating

Two cancers come to mind: pancreatic and liver. If your right upper stomach pain is caused by gallstones, you will not have other symptoms that pancreatic and liver cancer will cause.

Cancer of the gallbladder is rare (about 8.8 diagnoses per 100,000 people) and does not normally cause pain associated with eating.

Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer
• Yellowish skin (jaundice)
• Abdominal pain (upper right) regardless of eating
• Back pain
• Unintentional weight loss
• Appetite suppression
• Nausea
• Vomiting
DVT

pancreatic cancer stats

Symptoms of Liver Cancer
• Jaundice
• Abdominal pain (upper right) regardless of eating
• Back pain
• Unintentional weight loss
• Appetite suppression
• Nausea
• Vomiting
Ascites

liver cancer stats

Due to the uncommonness of these organ cancers, upper right stomach pain that’s brought on by eating is more likely a non-malignant condition.

Dr. Sengupta’s research interests involve optimizing the care and outcomes of patients hospitalized with gastrointestinal bleeding. Specific interests include GERD, colon cancer screening and fatty liver disease.  
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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