Buddy Check: Swollen lymph nodes could be symptom of COVID-19 vaccine, not cancer

Buddy Check

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) —- It’s important for women to alert their doctor before getting a mammogram if they recently had a COVID-19 vaccine.

Chances are you’ve heard the side effects include a sore arm, fatigue and fever after getting the vaccine. However, another symptom — swollen lymph nodes — can appear on a mammography and ultrasound days after the vaccination and could be mistaken for breast cancer.

Swollen lymph nodes are the body’s normal response to the vaccine. It means your system is making antibodies to fight the COVID-19 infection and radiologists should keep this side effect in mind when viewing breast images.

In an article published in Clinical Imaging, researchers featured four case studies of women who had just received their first shot. In one image, a 57-year-old female with a single enlarged left lymph node was detected eight days after receiving her first dose in her left arm. The swollen lymph node is highlighted. However her right breast appears normal. 

Overall, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, show 11.6% of vaccine recipients experience adenopathy after one dose, and 16% do so after the second dose. The enlarged lymph nodes typically appeared within two to four days post-vaccination.

Given the likelihood this side effect will develop in a significant number of patients, you need to let the radiologist know you’ve had the vaccine and when because it could impact your diagnosis.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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