Why Covid Vaccines Are Causing Some False Positive Mammograms

With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine having begun its nation-wide rollout this week, the attention of healthcare practitioners and scientists now turns to monitoring those with the vaccine. We should say that yes, the Covid-19 vaccine is necessary – particularly for anyone that would like to see life return to the “normal” we once knew before social distancing came to be a footnote to every interaction we had in public – and that the vaccines have gone through extended trials to ensure their efficacy and safety. 

In the US however, vaccines have seen a new trend emerge, whereby false-positive mammograms are occurring in women who have recently received a Covid-19 vaccine. It might sound alarming but there’s little to be concerned about and the news should not deter you from getting the vaccine itself. Rather, it’s quite a common side effect from injections to affect the lymph nodes under the arm where the shot was given, as these are part of your body’s immune system. This swilling in the lymph nodes is simply a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine and building up immunity to the virus. 

In a mammogram, swelling of lymph nodes can actually indicate breast cancer and often is a prompt for doctors to do a biopsy. As Dr. Kristin Robinson, a radiologist at the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic in Florida, told Body and Soul, “Breast cancer can present with lymph nodes that are swollen under one arm. When we see that on a mammogram, we always want to evaluation that further and make sure that this is related to the vaccine and not to a new breast cancer.”

If you’ve had a vaccine shot recently, inform your doctor about it when you go for a mammogram. But when it comes to getting a mammogram and the Covid vaccine, you shouldn’t put off doing either simply because of this trend. 

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