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Screening Mammograms and the COVD19 Vaccine

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Reports that some people develop swollen lymph nodes after a COVID19 vaccination has raised questions about whether screening mammograms should be rescheduled due to concerns that this finding could be mistaken for a potential breast cancer diagnosis. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend, "if possible, and when it does not unduly delay care, consider scheduling screening exams prior to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or 4-6 weeks following the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination."

This is a personal decision based on your health and family history. Speak to your primary care physician to determine what is best for you.

Our Patient Service Team continue to call each patient before their appointment to assess their current health status. Patients will now be asked if they have recently had the COVID-19 vaccine and will be offered the opportunity to reschedule should they wish.

Please note that it is safe to have a screening mammogram after receiving the COVID19 vaccine. Your mammogram technologist will note whether you have had the vaccine and which arm it was administered in. This information will be helpful in understanding mammogram images.

The vaccines that prevent COVID-19 can cause swollen lymph nodes under the arm where the shot was given. Your lymph nodes are part of your body's germ-fighting immune system. The swelling in the lymph nodes signifies that your body is responding to the vaccine and building up defences against the virus. It does not necessarily indicate cancer.

For those who have had the vaccine, if your screening mammogram indicates swelling in your lymph node, you may require a set of repeat images 4-6 weeks later to reassure that the swelling was an effect of the vaccine.

Regular screening mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancer. While there is flexibility in your annual screening mammogram's timing, it's essential not to delay receiving care for a new breast concern. Speak to your primary care physician and do not delay if a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound is recommended.

Thanks to Bermuda Broadcasting for helping us share this important message:

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date. 

For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre has strict masking policies in place. 

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