Mammograms and the COVID-19 Vaccination

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Mammograms and the COVID-19 Vaccination

Reports of some patients developing swollen lymph nodes after a COVID-19 vaccination has raised questions about whether screening mammograms should be rescheduled due to concerns that this finding could be mistaken for a potential breast cancer diagnosis. 

“If you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccination, it’s still important to come in for your screening mammogram,” says Dr. Kristin Robinson, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic in Florida. “Let your mammogram technologist know that you’ve had the vaccine and which arm it was administered in. This information will be helpful in understanding the mammogram images.”

The vaccines that prevent COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm where the shot was given. Your lymph nodes are part of your body’s germ-fighting immune system. The swelling in the lymph nodes is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and building up defenses against the virus

“Breast cancer can present with lymph nodes that are swollen under one arm,” says Dr. Robinson. “When we see that on a mammogram, we always want to evaluate that further and make sure that this is related to the vaccine and not to a new breast cancer.”

The Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) is advising that women who were recently vaccinated could have swelling and a lump in the lymph nodes of their armpit, which can be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer. The vaccines that prevent COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm where the shot was given. Your lymph nodes are part of your body’s germ-fighting immune system. The swelling in the lymph nodes is a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and building up defenses against the virus.

“If you’ve had a COVID-19 vaccination, it’s still important to come in for your screening mammogram,” says Dr. Kristin Robinson, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic in Florida. “Let your mammogram technologist know that you’ve had the vaccine and which arm it was administered in. This information will be helpful in understanding the mammogram images. Breast cancer can present with lymph nodes that are swollen under one arm,” says Dr. Robinson. “When we see that on a mammogram, we always want to evaluate that further and make sure that this is related to the vaccine and not to a new breast cancer.”

Given this information, many women may be contemplating the timing of their mammogram as they prepare to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But it is very important to remember having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Sources: Dr. Rochelle Ringer, Hilton Head Regional Healthcare www.hiltonheadregional.com

Dr. Kristen Robinson, Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/breast-clinic

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