The COVID-19 Vaccine Can Mirror This Breast Cancer Symptom—Here’s What to Know

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Recent news reported by Fox 8 says side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, specifically swollen lymph nodes, can mirror breast cancer symptoms. While La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon, Robert Singer, MD says swollen lymph nodes can result from any vaccine, “or from any inflammation or trauma in the arm,” patients may run into some issues if they go in for a mammogram within the few days following their vaccination.

According to Fox 8, radiologist Dr. Holly Marshall with University Hospitals Cleveland says, “Breast radiologists have encountered axillary adenopathy, also known as swollen lymph nodes, on screening mammograms of patients who have been vaccinated.” Dr. Singer warns that radiologists can mistake this swelling as a warning sign for breast cancer if they are unaware of the patient’s recent vaccination. As a result, Dr. Marshall says, “We are asking everybody who is having a mammogram if they had the COVID-19 vaccine, what dose, when, and what side?”

If the mammographer does not pose this question, Dr. Singer recommends bringing up your recent vaccination right away. “If you have swelling under the armpit and are scheduled for a mammogram, either reschedule the mammogram or let your provider know that you’ve had the vaccine in the same arm as your swelling. This will clear the air from the start and avoid any scares.”

“Swollen lymph nodes are not a sign that you have cancer and it will not cause cancer,” contends Dr. Singer, who explains that this type of swelling is usually temporary. Dr. Marshall adds that patients are typically seeing this side effect two to four days after the vaccine and they decrease in size after two to four weeks.

If the swelling persists for longer than this time frame or occurs on the opposite side of the vaccinated arm, both Dr. Singer and Dr. Marshall recommend getting them evaluated.

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