Covid-19: vaccine can lead to lymph node swelling and misleading mammogram results

Women should postpone routine mammograms until six weeks after their second vaccine dose, unless there is a history of cancer

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Mammogram results from one to six weeks after a Covid-19 vaccination could be inaccurate if doctors misread enlarged lymph nodes as cancer.

Coronavirus vaccines are known to trigger a strong immune response in the body, and this in turn can lead to inflamed lymph nodes in the armpit.

The swollen glands are usually a good sign that the body’s immune system has responded appropriately to the vaccine and created antibodies.

We fully encourage people to get vaccinated, and in case they experience the below symptoms they should not panic

But swollen lymph nodes can also be a symptom of breast cancer, so women who have scheduled a screening immediately after vaccination might find their results worrying.

Dr Taghreed Al Mahmeed, a consultant breast surgeon at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai, said women should not panic if their mammogram results indicated enlarged lymph nodes.

“I have seen many female patients coming in worried with pain and light swelling in the underarm post the Covid-19 vaccination.

"However, after taking a full history and carrying out the appropriate investigations, and proceeding with the follow-up in two to three months, the results were back to normal," she said.

Mammograms should be carefully scheduled

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. October 9, 2014///

Mobile mammogram van outside Dalma mall available till October 13th from 1pm to 9pm daily. Offers free breast cancer scanning for women ages 40 and older by walk ins and appointment. Results are sent by email and a CD is provided after your done. The van is equipped with one machine and one radiographic technician. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 
Mona Al-Marzooqi/ The National 

Reporter: Anam Rizvi 
Section: National
Patients should postpone their mammograms for six weeks after the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, unless there is a history of cancer. Mona Al-Marzooqi / The National

The phenomenon of potentially misleading mammogram results after Covid-19 vaccination was published in recent international publications, including the American Journal of Roentgenology and the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

As a result, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US issued new guidelines for choosing the right time to schedule screening.

A mammogram is an X-ray picture where two views are taken of each breast.

Although the process is very important and in many cases should not be delayed, if there is no known risk or concern of breast cancer, the US health institute recommends that patients postpone mammograms for six weeks after the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Alternatively, women can schedule the mammogram just before the date of the first shot.

If lymph nodes do show up as swollen on a mammogram, Dr Al Mahmeed said it was advisable to have an ultrasound two or three months later.

"We fully encourage people to get vaccinated, and in case they experience the [lymph node] symptoms they should not panic but rather visit a doctor to ensure everything is OK,” she said.

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