Doctors are recommending women separate their mammogram appointment from the coronavirus vaccine dose. The advice is now given as many women who received their COVID-19 vaccine shots complain about swollen lymph nodes and breast lumps.
Experts suggested that these are some of the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. If one follows up a mammogram soon after receiving the vaccination, the swollen nodes and lymph will appear on a mammogram.
Breast Cancer Like Signs Normal After COVID-19 Shot
These can then easily be mistaken as signs of breast cancer. So, Doctors advise either to make an appointment for a mammogram prior to the COVID-19 vaccine shot or have a remarkable gap between the two appointments.
Dr Harold Burstein is a breast oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He said that the appearance of these swollen lymph nodes and breast lumps was prominent in many cases when women went for the mammogram.
The National Cancer Institute has briefed the lymph nodes and said that these are specialized tissues that are a part of the body’s immune system. White blood cells that are present in the lymph nodes help fight infections and diseases.
Burstein said that with a size similar to that of a lime bean, the lymph nodes are present throughout the body. The most prominent lymph nodes are present in the armpits, groin area and in the neck.
The COVID-19 vaccine dose can cause the lymph nodes present at the armpits to swell easily due to the vaccination site’s close contact. The swelling can start appearing soon after receiving the dose. The swelling can persist for about 12 weeks. He also added that the vaccine only results in the swelling of lymph nodes at the armpits as a response from the immune system. It does not cause any abnormalities in the breast.
Health experts emphasize that swollen lymph nodes at any part or even on armpits are normal and expected behavior. Inflammation and swelling only indicate that the immune system is responding, and the antibodies are now working against the SARS-Cov2 virus that causes COVID-19.
Burstein also added that this is the desired response from the body’s immune system after receiving the vaccine.
Similar responses are also observed and reported after influenza, flu or HPV vaccine shots. The swollen lymph nodes are now being reported for the COVID-19 vaccine as well. The number of such cases with particular side effects is also rising as many people are now being vaccinated.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which worked on mRNA-based techniques, were authorized last year for emergency use. The vaccines so far have proved effective and safe with no serious side effects. Low-grade fever accompanied with chills, fatigue and headaches are some of the reported side effects of the coronavirus vaccines.
According to Dr. Jessica Leung, the mRNA-based vaccines might lead to more cases with swollen lymph nodes than other flu or influenza vaccines. These mRNA-based vaccines are observed to cause more side effects. She added that it would really be interesting to observe such signs with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a non-mRNA-based vaccine.
Cancer patients are therefore advised to go for a mammogram before receiving the dose if possible. If not, then it is advised to wait at least for a minimum period of 6 weeks after receiving the vaccine.
Dr. Leung added not to wait too long after 6 weeks. And if one requires to schedule a mammogram before 6 week, then the health practitioners should be informed about the COVID-19 vaccination.
Cancer is still a cause of concern, and mammograms should not be avoided at any cost that can save a woman’s life.