Breast pain, lumps, swelling and abnormalities seen in mammograms have become a commonality for women after getting the COVID vaccine. Experts say to still continue to get your regularly scheduled mammogram.
COVID vaccinations were first released at the end of 2020 and are continuing to be developed and studied. One of the common side effects that started to arise in the beginning was the complaint of pain and lumps in the breast and underarm area after vaccination. This was very worrying to many people, especially women with concerns about breast cancer.
Researchers and healthcare providers found that the COVID vaccine was commonly causing lymph nodes in the armpit and breast region to become swollen and painful. This is referred to as axillary lymphadenopathy. Lumps in this area are known to be a sign of breast cancer. Luckily, it was concluded that the inflammation usually goes down within a few weeks and there was no breast cancer present.
There are no links between the COVID vaccine and breast cancer. Dr. Lisa Mullen, a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging told Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Lymph nodes under the arm where a person has gotten a vaccine can become enlarged as part of the normal immune response to the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is a new type of vaccine, and people are reacting strongly to it. That heightened immune response is normal and expected.”1
People may ask themselves how this swelling and sometimes painful response can be a good thing. Remember that the lymph nodes are a part of the lymphatic system that helps filter the blood and aid in immunity. When someone gets sick, they often become swollen due to an immune response. Since the COVID vaccine stimulates the immune system, it is common for the lymph nodes to become swollen after getting the COVID vaccine. This is called an immunogenic reaction.
In the beginning, these lumps were leading to women having abnormal mammogram results. Dr. Edmonds started researching the correlation between abnormal mammograms and when the women were getting their COVID vaccines. Her team and others around the country found that most women had been vaccinated during the weeks leading up to their abnormal mammogram results. They found a correlation between which arm the women had been vaccinated in and which side of the mammogram was abnormal.
At first, the Society of Breast Imaging began recommending that women should wait four to six weeks after any COVID vaccines to have their mammogram completed to decrease the chance that swelling from the vaccination would cause abnormal mammogram results.
Since then, there has been more research conducted and in February 2022, the Society of Breast Imaging changed its recommendation to not delay mammograms due to COVID vaccination because these lumps can cause mammogram abnormalities for up to several months. Instead, women should proceed with their regularly scheduled mammograms.1 When going for the appointment let the mammogram technician performing the test know when you were vaccinated and in what arm so that they can document it for the radiologist.1
The key takeaway that women should remember is that getting swollen lymph nodes after the COVID vaccine is a normal response. Swelling usually goes down within a few weeks and the COVID vaccine does not cause breast cancer. Women should not delay their mammograms due to COVID vaccination. If you have more concerns or questions, reach out to your healthcare providers.
- Covid-19 vaccine: Can it affect your mammogram results? Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2022, May 18). Retrieved October 11, 2022
- The COVID-19 Vaccine Can Impact Mammograms. What You Should Do (and Why You Shouldn’t Worry!). Pennmedicine.org. (2022, September 29). Retrieved October 11, 2022
Services We Offer:
Home | About | OB Videos | Insurances Accepted | Blog | Providers | Michael Anthony, MD, FACOG | Noemi Maydew, MD, FACOG | Anne Bond Bonpain, MD, FACOG | Elita Wyckoff, MD, FACOG | Gilberto Rodrigo, MD, FACOG | Jennifer Fraley, MD, FACOG | Heather Flowers | Courtney Braswell | Services | Patient Care | Advanced Care Team | Testimonials | Contact Us | Patient Portal