Dr. B Explains Mammograms and the Covid Vaccine

Woman gets mammogram

Why you should try to wait 4-6 weeks after getting vaccinated to get a mammogram

You may have heard rumblings that some women who have received the Covid-19 vaccine have had abnormal mammogram results. So, is this something you should be worried about? According to Dr. Rebecca Brightman, our resident women’s health expert, absolutely not. Below, she gives us a quick explainer on why this phenomenon is happening, and why it certainly shouldn’t make you question getting the vaccine.

KCM: What’s the deal with women having abnormal mammogram results after being vaccinated for Covid-19?

Dr. Brightman: Radiologists started to realize that they were seeing enlarged lymph nodes in some recently vaccinated women, particularly on the side where they had received their vaccines. This does NOT mean that the vaccine causes cancer, or even abnormal mammograms. The breasts and the area underneath the arm are filled with lymph nodes, and they may respond to the vaccine by swelling slightly as the body makes antibodies. This is a completely normal immune response. Once your body gets used to the antibodies, which should be in about four to six weeks, your lymph nodes will go back down to normal. 

Is there a reason why this wouldn’t happen when you were getting a routine flu shot? 

It might happen after a flu shot, but think about the timing. We’re seeing people lining up to schedule doctors appointments as soon as they’ve been vaccinated. As you think about flu season, there is a much larger range of time when people get their shot. In this case, one of the first things many women are doing once they’re vaccinated is to get a mammogram, so they may still be experiencing a mild response to the vaccine.

So what’s the bottom line? 

If you can wait four to six weeks after your second dose of vaccine to get your mammogram, you’re less likely to be called in to have a repeat study done. But if you’re overdue for a mammogram or are at high risk for breast cancer, then you should get it as soon as possible.