What women need to know

Cleveland Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Annual mammograms save lives by detecting cancer in its earliest and treatable stages. And the COVID vaccine, of course, will save lives by preventing many people from contracting and spreading the virus. But there is a surprising side effect of the COVID vaccine that you will want to know about, especially if you have a mammogram scheduled soon.

During a mammogram, technicians take pictures not only of the breast but also of the area near the armpit. Right now, some women who have received the COVID vaccine are having an unexpected reaction.

“Not everyone, but some patients will see enlarged or swollen lymph nodes on mammograms,” said Holly Marshall, MD, division chief for breast imaging at University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center.

The US Centers for Disease Control report that 11 percent of COVID vaccine recipients have swollen lymph nodes after the first dose. Sixteen percent have swelling after the second. The swelling begins about two to three days after the shot. That’s why doctors say it’s important for women to tell their providers if they’ve recently received a vaccine, which arm it was on, and whether it was the first or second dose.


“This gives us information that helps us read the mammogram. Other things, like cancer, can cause swollen lymph nodes. So that’s why we want to know the history of vaccines, ”explained Dr. Marshall.

Doctors say that the swelling should go away in four to six weeks and is the body’s normal response to the vaccine.

“If the lymph nodes have not shrunk in about two months, then it would be time to get them checked, to get an ultrasound and make sure there is nothing else,” shared Dr. Marshall.

The CDC reports cases of swollen lymph nodes in patients who received the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

Doctors say that sometimes patients have felt the swelling under the arm, and in other cases, the swollen lymph nodes are detected on mammogram, but the patient does not feel them.

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