Amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, there’s been a surprising vaccine side effect that’s been drawing a lot of attention. Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit and collarbone area are a side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. These swollen lymph nodes are temporary and not a cause for concern, however, they could be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer in mammogram results.
Some people experience swelling after vaccination. Our lymph nodes play an important role in the immune system. We have clusters of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, chest, and a few other areas. Lymph nodes help us fight infection and disease and may swell as a result of the immune system’s healthy response to the vaccine. This swelling is normal and nothing to worry about.
This leaves many people wondering if they should delay their mammogram to avoid potentially unclear, confusing, or alarming mammogram findings.
The Mayo Clinic recommends continuing with mammograms as scheduled, even following a COVID-19 vaccination. Please tell your healthcare provider about your vaccine date and the affected arm. This information can help your healthcare provider better understand the mammogram results.
Postponing your screening mammogram to four to six weeks after your final vaccine dose is also an option, giving time for any swelling to subside.
“Having a screening mammogram soon after vaccination may cause unnecessary worry about swollen lymph nodes,” says Monte Swarup, MD. “Wait four to six weeks after your final vaccine dose before a screening mammogram. It will diminish the concern for a false positive result and its associated anxiety. Please do not delay any diagnostic mammograms.”
If you’re still feeling unsure about when to have your mammogram, check with your healthcare provider for their recommendation.
If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.