The pandemic has interfered with the ability to seek treatment for many health conditions, and those with breast cancer are no exception. About 2 in 5 survey respondents said that they’ve postponed a screening, exam, or medical procedure because of COVID-19, for one reason or another.
Some people who get the COVID-19 vaccine experience swelling or tenderness in the lymph nodes under the arm. Swollen lymph nodes can be a sign that the immune system is gearing up to fight off the infection, but it may also signal that a cancer is spreading, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
This can create confusion during a mammogram, for example, and may lead to further — potentially unnecessary — testing.
If you’re scheduled for a mammogram soon after your COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor. Although there’s a chance your physician may want to reschedule, you should never postpone the screening without talking to your doctor first.
Vaccines and Variants
For the vast majority of people, the best way to protect against COVID-19, including serious illness and death from the virus, is to get vaccinated. This is also true for most people who have breast cancer or a history of breast cancer, according to the ACS, although everyone should check with their doctor first.
Experts also advise people with breast cancer or those who’ve had breast surgery to get the vaccine injection on the opposite side of the body from the cancer. (For example, if you have breast cancer in your right breast, you should get the shot in your left arm. If you have cancer or have had surgery in both breasts, ask your doctor where you should receive the vaccination.)