By Monique Gary, DO, Director, Grand View Health Breast Cancer Program
I know you hear me say “get your mammogram” all the time. And make no mistake, getting your annual mammogram remains the best way to find breast cancer early. So please do so.
But if you plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine—or if you’ve already received it—you should know a few things when it comes to scheduling your screening mammogram.
Two articles in medical journals—one published in January, another in February—detail cases of women who had false-positive readings on their mammograms shortly after receiving their COVID-19 vaccines. Those women needed further imaging studies to rule out breast cancer.
Here’s why this is happening: For some women, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause lymph node swelling under the armpits temporarily. This is a good thing in that it shows your body is responding to the vaccine and building up its defenses against COVID-19.
Rest assured, there’s no link between the COVID-19 vaccine and breast cancer.
To limit the amount of false-positives and deliver the best-quality imaging services, our team at Grand View Health recommends you wait four-to-six weeks after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine to receive your screening mammogram. That will give your body time to respond to the vaccine and give your lymph nodes a chance to return to their normal size.
If you just got your vaccine and you’re scheduled for a screening mammogram soon, that’s OK. Don’t cancel it. But do tell us the date and time you received your most recent vaccine so we can consider that information as we evaluate your images.
Also, remember that if you have a diagnostic mammogram (if you feel a lump or have other breast changes that require imaging), do not delay those studies due to the COVID-19 vaccine. Diagnostic mammograms are time-sensitive tests that must be done at your earliest convenience.
So, yes… I still say, “get your mammogram!” And I’ll add to that, “get your COVID-19 vaccine.” They’re both great steps you should take to stay healthy.