Women should consider scheduling their mammogram either before taking a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, or four to six weeks following the vaccine’s second dose.
Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has begun to roll out, women need to pay attention to the timing of their breast exams and vaccination shots. According to the guideline released by the nonprofit organization Society of Breast Imaging on Thursday, women should consider scheduling their mammogram either before taking a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, or four to six weeks following the vaccine’s second dose. These new guidelines come shortly after it was reported that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines caused swollen lymph nodes in the armpit region, where the shots were administered.
Women should pay attention to the timing of their COVID-19 vaccination shots and breast exams, according to new guidelines. https://t.co/COUoWAQaEa— ABC News (@ABC) February 14, 2021
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton explained that enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit area are also an indication of breast cancer. "What they're seeing in real-time is enlarged lymph nodes in women who have had the COVID-19 vaccine and they don't want that to produce confusion with results of their mammogram," said Dr. Aston, a board-certified OBGYN, according to Good News Network. "But the most important thing is to realize that just seeing an enlarged lymph node in an armpit without a breast finding is not necessarily a sign of breast cancer."
Did you even read it? The vaccine can cause swollen lymph nodes (a natural immune response colds cause too), which is also a sign of breast cancer. So to prevent unnecessary fear of breast cancer, get a mammogram before your shot or 4 weeks after.— Collin Platt (@collin_platypus) February 14, 2021
Thus, there's no need to be alarmed if you notice that your armpits have swollen following the administration of the vaccine. Aston too shared that swollen lymph nodes after the second dosage of the vaccine is not something to be concerned about. "This is just your immune system doing its thing," she said. "This is your body doing its job." She also advises everyone to inform their doctor and radiologist about the arm in which they received the vaccination. The medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Breast Care Center Dr. Brett Parkinson explained, "When one receives a vaccination there is an inflammatory response in the arm."
According to News5Cleveland, doctors have noticed swollen lymph nodes in many women in the past four weeks while screening mammograms of those who were recently vaccinated. "Whenever we see these on a normal screening mammogram we call those patients back because it can either mean metastatic breast cancer which travels to the lymph nodes or lymphoma or leukemia," added Dr. Parkinson. However, he too revealed that swelling is caused due to inflammation, which is a normal reaction of the body to the vaccine.
However, the healthcare expert did express his surprise at the number of swollen lymph nodes they have been seeing. "With the Moderna vaccine it’s about 11% after the first dose and 16% after the second dose. We believe it’s comparable for the Pfizer vaccine as well," said Parkinson recommending women to get their mammogram before or after the vaccination. "We don’t want these patients to get a false positive to have this sort of alarm." Dr. Parkinson also advised people not to delay getting a mammogram in case they experience some worrying symptoms like a suspicious lump.
@Intermountain released new guidelines in accordance with the Society of Breast Imaging that women should get their #mammogram before their first dose of the #COVIDVaccine or they need to wait 4 weeks after their second dose, to avoid false positives. https://t.co/ZobNiZzOJF— Kristin Maloney BSN, OCN (@Ksizzly6) February 12, 2021
"Breast cancer kills women between 40,000 and 50,000 a year. Many of those deaths are needless," said the expert. "I know that screening mammographies are the only test that has been shown over the last 30 to 40 years to decrease the death rate of breast cancer." Dr. Parkinson also revealed that postponing a mammogram screening for a month or two won't have a huge impact. The medical profession also urges people to get the vaccine if they have an opportunity as the appointments are limited.