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April 17, 2021

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Breast scan, COVID-19 vaccine don’t mix

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NORFOLK, Va. — New medical guidance recommends that women should avoid scheduling mammograms around the time they receive COVID-19 vaccinations because the shots cause lymph nodes to swell, falsely mimicking a warning sign of breast cancer.

The guidance, from the Society of Breast Imaging, suggests that women get mammograms before their first COVID-19 vaccine shot or four to six weeks after their second dose.

Doctors noticed that a number of women being called back for further screening because of swollen lymph nodes had recently received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The women would feel the swollen lymph nodes after their COVID-19 vaccines, go to their doctor, and undergo additional testing to rule out breast cancer, said Dr. Keith Newbrough, a breast cancer radiologist with the Sentara Cancer Network and Hampton Roads Radiology Associates.

If women wait at least a month after their second vaccine shot, their lymph nodes will have time to return to normal.

However, if it will be months down the road until they can get a mammogram, it’s best to go ahead and get it done anyway, Newbrough said.

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