Local radiologist discusses vaccine side effect that mirrors breast cancer symptom

Buddy Check 3

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – One side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is creating undue fear among some women.

In some cases, swollen lymph nodes under the armpits can occur after a shot — but can also be a sign of breast cancer.

“That certainly could be alarming to the woman,” said Dr. Jordan Dixon.

The radiologist reads more than 100 mammograms a day at St. Joseph’s/Candler. She says they’ve noticed these symptoms in women who have recently received the coronavirus vaccine.

“Most of these cases have been completely asymptomatic to the woman, but we do notice when we receive their mammogram that they have some one-side lymphadenopathy, some larger lymph nodes, on that one side,” Dixon said.

So why is this happening?

“This is our normal immune response to having any vaccination,” explained Dixon. “Our lymph nodes are part of our immune system, and so they will swell in response to any immune stimulus.”

Doctors say the swelling could appear two to four days after receiving the vaccine.

“If we do see lymphadenopathy and large lymph nodes on the side that they had received the vaccine, or on the other side, then we’re following that up with an ultrasound,” Dixon said.

She recommends scheduling your mammogram prior to receiving your first dose of the vaccine, or four weeks after receiving your second dose.

“Most of the swelling seems to be greatest after the second dose for the vaccine,” she added.

And finally, Dixon urges patients not to cancel their mammogram appointments because of the pandemic. St. Joseph’s/Candler has worked to make sure patients receive the care they need in a safe environment.

Dixon says if you do notice swelling after your COVID-19 shot, and you have an upcoming screening, don’t hesitate. Call your doctor.

For more information on WSAV’s Buddy Check 3 program or a number to call with breast health questions, visit here.

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