It’s important that women pay attention to the timing of their COVID-19 vaccination shots and breast exams, new guidelines advise.
According to a report by Good Morning America, the nonprofit organization, Society of Breast Imaging, released guidelines on Thursday, advising women to consider scheduling their mammogram either before taking a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or four to six weeks following the vaccine’s second dose.
GMA said there were reports of “both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines causing swollen lymph nodes in the armpit area where the shot was administered,” which precipitated the new guidelines.
GMA cited Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent who explained that “that area of the body is also where enlarged lymph nodes can be a sign of breast cancer.”
Ashton, a board-certified OBGYN, said of the SBI’s new guidelines: “What they’re seeing in real time is enlarged lymph nodes in women who have had the COVID-19 vaccine and they don’t want that to produce confusion with results of their mammogram.”
Ashton, added, “But the most important thing is to realize that just seeing an enlarged lymph node in an armpit without a breast finding is not necessarily a sign of breast cancer.”
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GMA noted that, according to Ashton, “swollen lymph nodes after the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is not a cause for concern.”
“This is just your immune system doing its thing,” she said. “This is your body doing its job.”
GMA passed along Ashton’s advice, encouraging people to talk to their doctor and radiologist, and to be “sure they know in which arm” they were vaccinated.
Advice about mammograms from the American Cancer Society.
According to the American Cancer Society, “women age 45 to 54″ should get yearly mammograms, GMA reported.
GMA further explained that according to the ACS, if women ages 40 to 44 wish to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms, they should “have the choice.”
The ACS also said that “women 55 and older may switch to mammograms every two years or continue yearly screening,” GMA noted.