MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Doctors are noticing an interesting side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine that’s impacting mammograms for women.
“Recent studies have shown that approximately 10 to 15 percent of COVID-19 vaccinated patients can have lymph node swelling,” said Dr. Lauren Thorington, a radiologist at the Montgomery Cancer Center.
Thorington explained that swelling of the lymph nodes is often caused by cancer.
“In advanced breast cancer, we see enlarged lymph nodes pretty commonly. If it’s an early breast cancer, there should be no enlarged lymph nodes,” Thorington said.
A number of other factors could cause them to swell, according to Thorington.
“Infection, inflammation, any vaccine can cause a temporary swelling of the lymph nodes,” Thorington said.
So, Thorington isn’t surprised by this effect of the COVID vaccine, and now, she’s working to stay ahead of what she finds.
“We’ve been asking patients if they’ve had a vaccine, and if they have which side it was in, and when they received it,” Thorington said.
Thorington said there are some reputable groups recommending women wait a certain period of time between getting the vaccine and then getting a mammogram, but that’s not her recommendation.
“Breast cancer screening is most effective, most beneficial to the patients when we can find the breast cancer early,” Thorington added. “So I would like to urge the patient, get your COVID vaccine, you know, that’s extremely important, but also get your screening mammogram that’s extremely important as well.”
Just be sure to speak up at your mammogram appointment if you’ve had the vaccine recently.