COVID vaccine side effect can be confused with breast cancer

COVID vaccine side effect can be confused with breast cancer
It's recommended that women over 40 get a yearly mammogram. (Source: wwsb)
Source: Live 5
Source: Live 5

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Doctors are warning people not to be alarmed by a COVID-19 vaccine side effect that could be confused with breast cancer.

As more people are getting vaccinated, more people are experiencing it.

Dr. Laila Agrawal, a medical oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute, said she noticed it after she got the COVID-19 vaccine.

”After I had the COVID vaccine, a few days later, I felt a tender lump in my armpit, and when I felt it, it was a swollen lymp node,” Agrawal said.

Agrawal said she knew what was happening to her body. But for a lot of people experiencing the same thing, when they feel that lump, it’s concerning.

”Swollen lymph nodes can happen for different reasons, and one reason we think about a lot is cancer,” Agrawal said.

In this case, breast cancer is that reason. But Agrawal urged women not to be alarmed. Enlarged lymph nodes close to an injection site are not uncommon as a COVID vaccine side effect.

”Similarly, after a vaccine, your body is working on overtime to develop immunity against that vaccine, and something that can happen is a swollen lymph node,” Agrawal said, adding that it can go away in a few days.

Doctors are talking about it, and medical journals have started publishing reports aimed at easing fears and helping patients avoid needless testing.

”In the Moderna study, about 11 percent to 16 percent of people had swollen lymph nodes after the vaccine,” Agrawal said.

If you are due for your annual mammogram and plan on getting the COVID vaccine, timing is important.

“If you are getting a COVID vaccine and you haven’t had your regular screening mammogram yet, I would encourage people to go ahead and schedule that mammogram before you get your first COVID vaccine,” Agrawal said. “Otherwise, it may be wise to wait a couple of weeks after the second dose, so any swollen lymph nodes would have resolved.”

If you have a lymph node that is getting larger or isn’t going away, contact your doctor. Doctors don’t want to discourage women from getting mammograms and the COVID vaccine. Just keep this information in mind.

Also, if you have had breast cancer on one side of your body, Dr. Agrawal said it’s a good idea to get the COVID vaccine on the opposite side.

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