Delaying Mammography After COVID Vaccination Unnecessary

(Reuters) – Women should not delay routine mammograms after receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, experts now say.

In some women, the vaccines cause swollen lymph nodes around the armpits, which could be misread as a possible sign of breast cancer on a mammogram. Early after the vaccines became available, the Society for Breast Imaging advised women to wait four-to-six weeks after the second shot before having a screening mammogram because it was thought the abnormalities would resolve by then. New research shows that so-called axillary lymphadenopathy after vaccination can last longer than initially reported. In 111 women with this side effect after receiving an mRNA COVID vaccine, the swelling took an average of 12-13 weeks after the second shot to resolve completely, researchers reported in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Women should not delay their mammograms for extended periods, the Society for Breast Imaging now says. In an updated guideline ( directed at asymptomatic, average risk women with no history of breast cancer or lymph node cancer, the group now advises that if screening mammograms show the kind of lymph node abnormalities associated with the vaccines, the exams should be repeated six months later.

SOURCE: American Journal of Roentgenology, online May 18, 2022.

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