‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to help.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer on Wednesday 24 April 2013, to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper.
Read the response by Dr Sameer Zar consultant physician & gastroenterologist:
Doctor, I am 52 and experiencing a strange pain in the stomach area, especially after eating. This has been going on for a few weeks now - I am also feeling sick, off food (loss of appetite). I am quite worried as I looked online and seen that it could be quite bad. I hope you can help me find out what it could possibly be and what would be the treatment? Simon, Surrey.
Hi Simon, abdominal pain is a common complaint affecting up to half of the adult population. In majority of patients the cause is usually benign and is self-limiting but at the same time it may indicate a serious underlying condition. This is particularly true for individuals over the age of 50 years as the risk of cancer is much higher in the older age group.
It is important to contact your general practitioner if the symptoms are of recent onset and are persistent. Any recent change in longstanding symptoms should also be investigated. Differential diagnosis of abdominal pain is broad. Your GP will obtain a detailed history including any use of anti-inflammatory medication and will carry out a physical examination to assess your condition. He is likely to arrange screening blood tests and may give you a short trial of medication. Certain clues in your history such as weight loss, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, lump in the abdomen, jaundice or change in bowel symptoms will alert your doctor to refer you to a gastroenterologist for urgent investigations. Abnormal blood tests and a family history of stomach or bowel cancer are also further considerations.
When you see your consultant he will assess all the available information and is likely to arrange specialised investigations including endoscopic (camera) examination of the stomach and/or bowel and ultrasound or CT scan of the abdomen to make a diagnosis. Recent advances in the field of medicine means that many more patients can now receive treatment. However, it is important that if a cancer is suspected the diagnosis is established as soon as possible because a favourable outcome of treatment depends on catching the disease at an early stage. I hope this helps.