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“Should I reschedule my mammogram if I recently received the COVID-19 vaccine?”

Answer from Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.

[Posting recently on Headline Health, Disqus user Charlene M. asked, “Why is it you can’t take mammogram before 19 days after you had this shot?” Like many anti-vaccine myths getting passed around, this one is also false. But we’re glad she asked – because the last thing we need right now is women dying of breast cancer due to a campaign of misinformation … HH]

MAYO CLINIC – There’s concern that side effects from the vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be mistaken for breast cancer on a mammogram.

But that doesn’t mean you should cancel your mammogram if you’ve received your vaccine. Instead, contact the facility where your mammogram is scheduled to ask for guidance.

The vaccine that prevents COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm in which 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 that causes COVID-19.

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Breast cancer also can cause swelling in the armpit if cancer cells spread to the lymph nodes.

Some doctors are concerned that having a mammogram soon after vaccination may cause unnecessary worry about swollen lymph nodes.

For that reason, some have recommended waiting four to six weeks after your final vaccine dose before having a mammogram.

That way, any lymph node swelling caused by the vaccine has time to go away.

Others, including Mayo Clinic, recommend that mammograms continue as scheduled. But be sure to tell your doctor about your vaccination, the date it occurred and which arm was affected.

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This information will be helpful for understanding the mammogram images.

If lymph node swelling is found on your mammogram and you’ve recently received the COVID-19 vaccine, the doctor who interprets your mammogram images (radiologist) will consider this when recommending whether additional imaging or follow-up is needed.

FURTHER READING: 

Kristin Robinson, M.D., Radiology, Mayo Clinic: It’s very important to protect yourself from COVID-19. Women should get their COVID-19 vaccine even if they’re scheduled to have their mammogram.

Breast imaging practices all over the country are seeing patients who have had the COVID-19 vaccine come in for their mammograms, and some of them are having swelling of the lymph nodes in the arm or the side of the body that the vaccine was administered.

Now, we’re recognizing that this is not the majority of patients. It is indeed the minority of patients, and this can happen with other vaccines, but compared to other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is causing this a bit more.

If you have a concern about your breast or the under arm area after the vaccine, come in and be seen by your provider and get your mammogram done. We want to make sure we evaluate that appropriately. What we don’t want to confuse this with or miss is actually a breast cancer that might be causing the lymph nodes to be swollen on one side.

So if you’ve had the vaccine and you get your mammogram and you’re called back for additional imaging, not to worry until there’s really something to worry about. Let us do the appropriate workup and make sure we’re doing a thorough job screening for breast cancer.

Because breast cancer, when it’s found and treated small and early stages, it is almost curable, essentially, certainly much more treatable, and so for that reason, regardless of what’s happening in the world around us, it’s really important to not delay your breast cancer screening. Source. 

 

 

 

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