COVID-19 vaccines could interfere with mammogram result

Coronavirus Local Impact

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For any women who may have a mammogram and a COVID-19 vaccine on their calendar soon, they should be aware that the vaccine could interfere with the results of the mammogram.

COVID-19 vaccines can cause some minor side effects like tenderness in the arm or a mild fever, but they could also cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm where the shot was given. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures throughout the body that are part of the immune system.

The swelling is a normal reaction, but Dr. Jennifer Hadro, the Medical Co-Director of Breast Imaging at Baystate Medical Center, said it can affect a mammogram reading. When the lymph nodes swell, they can look just like cancer. 

“Our routine has always been, if we see an enlarged lymph node, we usually have the patient return for additional imaging and evaluation,” Dr. Hadro explained.

Dr. Hadro recommends scheduling a mammogram either before getting the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or four to six weeks following the second dose, so the patient isn’t asked to return for that additional evaluation. She said this is only for women who don’t have any breast cancer symptoms.

“If people have symptoms such as a lump, or any changes in their breast or armpit area, they should certainly make their appointment regardless of their vaccine status,” she explained.

If a lymph node remains swollen for an extended period of time after the vaccine, the Society of Breast Imaging says a biopsy may need to be done to determine the cause.

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