Medical Minute: Breast Imaging and the COVID-19 Vaccine
One side effect that some people are noticing from the COVID-19 vaccine is swelling under their armpit. It's caused concern among some, as that can mirror a symptom of breast cancer.
"Patients can get enlarged or swollen lymph nodes in the armpit of the side where the arm was injected," said Lauren Miller, MD, a radiologist who focuses on breast imaging. "That is just a normal immune response. It means that the vaccine is working, the body is responding to the vaccine."
So what is OhioHealth recommending? Should you get a screening, like a mammogram, a few days after you get your COVID-19 vaccine?
"We're recommending that they schedule their screening exams - and this would be like a mammogram, a screening ultrasound or a high risk screening breast MRI - to try to do those a week prior to their scheduled COVID vaccine," said Natalie Jones, MD, breast and melanoma surgeon and chair of the OhioHealth breast health program. "Or, because we don't want to delay them in getting their COVID vaccine, the other alternative is to get (screened) four to six weeks after their second vaccine dose (or first, if it's a one injection vaccine like Johnson & Johnson)."
This is only recommended when possible and when it doesn’t delay necessary care. Breast screenings are one of the best ways to detect cancer early. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about delaying your breast screening due to the COVID-19 vaccine.