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How COVID Vaccines Affect Women Receiving Screening Mammograms

As seen in Inviting Arkansas. Authored by Dr. Stacy Smith-Foley and Dr. Jessica McElreath of The Breast Center at CARTI.

As we move into year two of the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to discover the impact the virus, and its vaccines, have on our overall health.

It has recently come to attention that women may develop swollen lymph nodes under the arm after receiving the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. The enlarged lymph nodes may be palpable or detected asymptomatically on mammograms. While swollen lymph nodes with an otherwise normal screening mammogram is a rare occurrence, reported in only 0.02%-0.04% of screening mammograms, higher rates of enlarged lymph nodes are being reported on mammograms in women following COVID-19 vaccination.   

With more than 10% of Arkansans being fully vaccinated, it is important that women understand this is a normal immune reaction to a vaccine, and the lymph nodes should return to normal within a few days or weeks.

To reduce the chance of swollen lymph nodes appearing on your screening mammogram after receiving a  COVID-19 vaccination, The Society of Breast Imaging suggests you consider scheduling your screening mammogram before your first COVID-19 vaccine dose or 4-6 weeks after the second dose if, and only if, it does not unduly delay care. If you are experiencing a breast problem or concern, do not delay your mammogram appointment. You may also not want to delay your screening mammogram appointment if you are late for your yearly mammogram.

At CARTI, we have updated our intake form to include whether you have received the  COVID-19 vaccine, when, and in which arm it was administered. This will help the breast radiologist as they interpret your mammogram. Because both the COVID-19 vaccination and screening mammograms are vital for your overall health, it is very important that you keep both appointments.

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Schedule your mammogram today at The Breast Center at CARTI. For more information, call 501.537.MAMO or visit