Swollen lymph nodes are a sign your body is making antibodies to fight an infection, just what a vaccine is meant to do. But doctors say getting one shortly before a mammogram can lead to a false positive.
The Society of Breast Imaging is alerting the medical community to this temporary side effect now that the COVID-19 vaccine is being administered.
Dr. Priya Sareen with Lehigh Valley Health Network says she’s seeing a lot of swollen lymph nodes in women who were recently vaccinated.
“It does lead to some more anxiety because you know, when we first see these, we do unfortunately have to call women back and do an ultrasound typically to document the lymph nodes,” Sareen said.
Sareen says additional follow up is necessary.
But health officials are trying to avoid the false positive by changing the pre-screening process for mammograms, educating women about the temporary side effects of the vaccine, and when women should get their mammograms.
“About 4 to 6 weeks after their second shot,” Sareen said. “You know we certainly don’t want women to delay getting that vaccination or if you know you’ve got some time before you get that first shot get it done beforehand.”
Sareen says the important thing to remember is that the side effect of swollen lymph nodes is only temporary, and women over the age of 40 should not put off preventative screenings or forgo the vaccine.
Sareen says both are powerful tools to save lives.