Right now there's concern that side effects from the vaccine to prevent COVID-19 could be mistaken for breast cancer on a mammogram.
We talked with Dr. Jose Perez-Tamayo, Diagnostic Radiology Specialist at Ogden Regional Medical Center, for answers and advice.
He says vaccines of all types, including the COVID-19 vaccine, can result in temporary swelling of the lymph nodes. This is normal, Dr. Perez-Tamayo says, and may be a sign that the body is making antibodies in response as intended, but it can also lead to a false negative in your screening mammogram.
If possible, and when it does not unduly delay care, The Society of Breast Imaging recommends scheduling screening exams prior to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or 4-6 weeks following the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccination to allow the lymph nodes to return to normal.
But, he says it's important that you do not delay your mammogram beyond that if you are due for one.
If you are already scheduled for a mammogram but recently received a COVID-19 vaccine, contact your doctor who, based on your situation, can help determine whether you should reschedule your mammogram appointment.
Mammograms don't prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancers as early as possible, when they are more treatable.
Screening mammograms are the best method for detecting breast cancer early. Mammograms can usually find lumps two or three years before a woman or her doctor can feel them.
Research has shown a 25 percent reduction in deaths from breast cancer among women who are screened regularly.
Along with keeping your mammogram appointment, it's important to get the COVID-19 vaccine when you are eligible.
Patients with cancer are at an increased risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19, and the vaccine is an effective tool to help prevent infection.
For more information and to find a MountainStar location near you to schedule your mammogram please visit MountainStar.com/Mammogram.