New Recommendations for Scheduling Mammograms Around COVID-19 Vaccinations

Feb 17, 2021

Credit PIXABAY.COM

Women who get the COVID-19 vaccine should wait a couple weeks before getting a mammogram.

That’s according to the new guidance issued by the Society of Breast Imaging.

Some people who got the COVID-19 vaccine have experienced an enlargement of their lymph nodes.

It’s temporary and not harmful.

“That’s actually your body’s normal reaction. In the studies that they’ve done so far, it only happened in about 11 percent of those patients after their first dose and 16 percent after the second vaccination. It’s not a huge number. It doesn’t happen to everybody, but we are identifying it does happen to some,” said Aspirus Wausau Hospital Imaging Manager Kathy Reith.

While it’s a normal reaction, it could lead to a misreading on a mammogram.

“If we see an enlarged lymph node that could potentially be a sign to a cancer in the breast,” said Reith. “We always would want to biopsy that enlarged lymph node to see if there’s any cancer present.”

Asking about COVID-19 vaccinations will now be part of regularly screenings so that doctors don’t do a biopsy unnecessarily.

If you’ve recently gotten a vaccine and a mammogram shows enlarged lymph nodes, doctors may ask you to get rescreened in a couple weeks.

“Every technologist is asking their patient if they’ve been vaccinated and if so when and in which arm. Then we’re sharing those notes the radiologist so he’s aware who has been vaccinated. We’re also going to have prompts in our scheduling so that when patients call to schedule they will be ask if they’ve been vaccinate so we can schedule them in the appropriate times,” said Reith.

Aspirus recommends women either get a mammogram before they get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or wait 4 to 6 weeks after getting the second dose.

Aspirus recommends women have yearly mammograms starting at age 40.