Getting a mammogram soon after the COVID-19 vaccine may affect test results. Temporary swelling of the lymph nodes can falsely indicate the presence of breast cancer in a mammogram.
Dr. Laura Morris, with University of Missouri Health Care, recommends women get their coronavirus vaccination well before scheduling their mammogram.
“Or potentially wait and defer that screening mammogram for about four to six weeks after you complete your vaccination series. But this only applies to screening mammograms – not to tests that your doctor might have ordered because of symptoms or if you have felt a lump in your breast,” she says.
Morris, the MU Health Care COVID-19 vaccine co-chair and a family medicine physician, says getting the vaccination and mammograms are both important.
“Given the surge that we’re seeing in COVID infections that for a patient who’s deciding right now, ‘Do I get my booster shot or do I get my routine mammogram?’ The answer is you get your booster shot now and you delay the routine mammogram, not forever, but for about a month. Because it’s a screening,” she says. “There’s no symptoms and the more pressing danger to that person’s health is actually COVID infection.”
According to Morris, there is no connection between the COVID-19 vaccine and developing breast cancer.
She says the swelling can happen after the first or the second coronavirus shots.
“But there’s definitely an uptick and an increase in the lymph nodes swelling after the booster vaccine and the rates are slightly different with the Moderna vaccine -causing a little bit more prominent lymph node swelling than the Pfizer vaccine, and both mRNA vaccines cause it a little bit more often than the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” says Morris.
Morris says other vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia, the flu and tetanus can also impact mammogram results.
She says the lymph nodes will return to normal size in about four to six weeks.
“So a false positive mammogram ultimately turns out okay but can definitely end up with a lot of extra time and money spent plus anxiety and time off work to return to get additional tests or even potentially biopsies that are absolutely unnecessary,” she says.
Dr. Amy Patel, Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says breast imaging specialists can see findings on mammograms related to the COVID-19 vaccine, but she says they know how to handle these findings. She says the Society of Breast Imaging now says you can consider delaying 4-6 weeks but ultimately it’s up to your doctor.
She says findings can actually be seen in patients longer than 4-6 weeks. She says breast imaging specialists are equipped with the knowledge to know how to handle these patients and not put them through an unnecessary callback or biopsy.
“We have seen too many delayed cases since the pandemic, which has been really devastating because it’s either too late to save them or they will be enduring far worse invasive treatment than if they would have not delayed screening,” she says.
To hear the Show Me Today interview with Dr. Laura Morris, click below.
Missouri doctor: Consult specialist about getting mammogram after receiving COVID-19 vaccination (AUDIO) https://www.missourinet.com/2022/01/03/missouri-doctor-consult-specialist-about-getting-mammogram-after-receiving-covid-19-vaccination-audio/
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