ROCHESTER, Minn. - Some patients who have recently received the COVID-19 vaccine are reporting swollen lymph nodes and that raises concerns for a potential breast cancer diagnosis.
Doctors at Mayo Clinic say the most important thing to note here is if you've been vaccinated, it's still crucial to come in for your screening mammogram. The COVID-19 vaccines can cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm where you got the shot. That just means your body is responding to the vaccine and building up defenses against the virus. Dr. Kristin Robinson with Mayo Clinic explained why these swollen lymph nodes can be mistaken for breast cancer. "Breast cancer can present with lymph nodes that are swollen under one arm," she said. "When we see that on a mammogram, we always want to evaluate that further and make sure that this is related to the vaccine and not to a new breast cancer."
The similarities with the swollen lymph nodes is where the confusion can come in, but Dr. Robinson said that shouldn't deter you from still getting screened. "It is important not to delay screening for breast cancer or receiving care for breast cancer if you've been diagnosed in any circumstance," she explained. "Whether we're in the pandemic or not. Because breast cancer, when it's found and treated in small and early stages, it is almost curable essentially and certainly much more treatable than if we discover it at later stages or at larger sizes."
Dr. Robinson said make sure you tell your technologist if you've been vaccinated, especially which arm you got the shot in. That can help them better understand the mammogram images. As long as you tell your doctor beforehand if you've received the COVID-19 vaccine, there's no reason to reschedule your appointment.