FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Protecting yourself from COVID-19 and breast cancer means getting a vaccine and a mammogram. Both are important and necessary, but for the best results timing is everything.
The Society of Breast Imaging warns that women recently vaccinated for COVID-19 could have swelling of the lymph nodes in their armpit. That swelling could be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer on a routine mammogram.
Fresno Diagnostic Radiologist Dr. Bonna Rogers-Neufeld has seen several cases on mammograms locally. She says the swollen lymph nodes mean the vaccine triggered an immune response.
“It was pretty quickly discovered and quickly disseminated,” said Dr. Rogers. So it will cause swollen lymph nodes in a minority – but because of the number of people being vaccinated, we see a lot of it.”
Dr. Rogers showed the changes in lymph nodes from the COVID-19 vaccine, which she says can also happen in other tests like a chest scan.
She stresses that women who’ve found a lump or with other concerns should never delay their mammogram, but those scheduled for a routine screening mammogram should wait six weeks after their second shot, to give the lymph nodes time to return to normal.
We don’t want them to delay the vaccine for the mammo, we want them to delay the mammo for the vaccine.
If the swollen lymph nodes do show up on a mammogram, Dr. Rogers says there will be a follow-up test performed to ensure everything is normal.