There is a screening mammogram concern related to women who have recently had COVID-19 vaccinations and the potential for false positives.
According to the Society of Breast Imaging, “Swollen lymph nodes under the arm with an otherwise normal screening mammogram is a rare occurrence, reported in 0.02% – 0.04% of screening mammograms.” While such swelling seldom occurs following the administration of influenza, HPV, TB and other vaccinations, it is more common with COVID-19 vaccinations. Please consider the following when referring patients for screening mammography:
- Some women who have the COVID-19 vaccination may experience swollen lymph nodes under their arm on the same side as the vaccine injection.
- Swollen lymph nodes are more commonly reported after the second dose of vaccine but can also happen after the first.
- Swollen lymph nodes resulting from vaccination will usually return to normal after a few days or weeks.
- While this is a normal immune reaction to a vaccination, swollen lymph nodes on a mammogram can be a rare sign of breast cancer.
- For best results, we recommend patients have their screening mammogram either prior to receiving their COVID-19 vaccination, or 4-6 weeks after the last dose.
- If a screening mammogram is already scheduled and falls within 4 weeks of a patient’s last vaccine dose, we recommend rescheduling the mammogram.
- A recent COVID-19 vaccination should not delay diagnostic mammogram and the work-up of a clinically suspicious breast mass.