COVID-19 vaccine side effects mistaken for breast cancer

Regional News

(WTAJ) — One side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine could be mistaken for breast cancer.

Radiologists have noticed swollen lymph nodes on screening mammograms of patients who have been vaccinated.

She said this is a normal immune response to the vaccination and is harmless.

This side effect has been seen throughout the UPMC system, but Chief of Division of Breast Imaging for UPMC, Margarita Zuley, said it wasn’t a surprise.

“For the vaccination trials that were looked at by the FDA about 10 % of patients that were looked at by those trials had symptoms of swollen lymph nodes more so for the Moderna vaccine than the Pfizer vaccine,” Dr. Zuley said.

So what happens if it does appear?

“Having it isn’t dangerous it’s just that when you’re screening for breast cancer that could be a really uncommon sign of breast cancer so if we see that we newly on a patient we are going to ask them to return,” Dr. Zuley said.

While you may not notice any changes, the swelling can take anywhere from days to weeks to subside.

To avoid unnecessary scares or visits, Dr. Zuley recommends scheduling your mammogram before you get your vaccine.

“As the vaccine rolls out most people don’t have availability to get a vaccination yet so we have some time to try and get people’s screening mammograms done beforehand,” Dr. Zuley said.

For folks that are eligible to receive the vaccine and already have an appointment made, it’s recommended to wait 4 weeks after your second dose.

“Please do not skip your vaccination because of this concern we can reschedule your mammogram if you like around your visit, the vaccines are safe and effective its the single best way we have to halt this covid pandemic we encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Dr. Zuley said.

While getting the vaccine is important, Dr. Zuley said getting a yearly mammogram is also vital.

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