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COVID-19 vaccine may cause false positive on mammograms

A doctor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told KHOU they have seen about 5-10 false positive cases a week.

COLORADO, USA — Doctors are learning about a new side effect from the COVID-19 vaccine that could result in a false positive on your next mammogram.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause swollen lymph nodes under that arm in which the shot was given. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic stated the swelling in the lymph nodes is a sign of a person’s body responding to the vaccine and building up defenses against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Breast cancer can also cause lymph nodes under the armpit to swell. The similarities have caused some patients to receive a false positive in their mammogram.
A doctor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told KHOU they had seen about 5-10 false-positive cases a week.

“I personally have not seen it,” Doctor Jerome Schroeder, a breast imagining radiologist at SLC Health Breast Care Center, said. “I do have colleagues in my personal group that work throughout the city that have seen one or two cases, but it hasn't been a really big issue so far.”

The MD Anderson Cancer Center is warming its patients that swelling could impact results for up to six weeks after vaccination, so they urge patients to plan accordingly.

In Denver, Dr. Schroeder and his college. Dr. Chelsea Gawryletz is urging their patients not to cancel or reschedule their mammograms even if they did get vaccinated.

"We know screenings saves lives, and we know that when you're asymptomatic and having no problems and no concerns having a screening mammography at that time is very important," Dr. Gawryletz said.   

“Our message is if you are overdue for any of your screenings, particularly for a mammography screening, get your mammogram no matter what your vaccine status is.”

The National Cancer Institute estimates an additional 10,000 deaths over the next 10 years because of the pandemic’s impact on cancer screenings and treatments.

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