COVID-19 vaccine may cause breast cancer false alarm


JOPLIN, Mo. – Health experts across the country say a small amount of recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine are experiencing swollen lymph nodes.

“We’ve just seen a few cases and we’ve been aware of this. It came to our attention that the vaccine was causing these kinds of problems,” said Freeman radiology tech Peggy Ellis.

The team at Freeman Hospital’s Wes & Jan Houser Women’s Pavilion knows that swollen lymph nodes can be a breast cancer indicator, and that’s why they’re asking the women who come to them for mammograms and check ups to let them know if they’ve received a shot of COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s documented on to a history sheet that we put out on every patient, and that way our radiologist can go back to our history sheet and see if they’ve had a vaccine, and that gives her a tip-off that that’s what’s causing this,” said Ellis.

The Society of Breast Imaging recommends women schedule routine breast screenings either before getting their COVID-19 vaccine or four to six weeks after getting their second shot, but the team at Freeman says as long as you inform them that you’ve received a vaccine, there shouldn’t be a problem

Dr. Alan Buchele, director of the Wes & Jan Houser Women’s Pavilion says, “The main thing is we don’t want women to miss their screenings again this year since so many missed last year…”

And his team wants to assure cancer survivors that just because the vaccine is causing swelling in some cases, doesn’t mean their concerns will be dismissed.

“A patient that’s already had cancer and maybe has some swollen lymph nodes, sure, we’re going to investigate that a little bit more because they’ve already had an issue. We don’t want to make light of that and assume it’s a COVID vaccination that’s caused it,” said Ellis.

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