Doctors have warned women, not to confuse their Covid-19 vaccine reactions with signs of breast cancer, worrying that they have developed cancer. This is true for one particular side effect that is common after Pfizer as well as the Moderna vaccine. Most people who have received this vaccine have experienced swollen lymph nodes especially in the armpit which is the site of receiving the vaccine.
It is easy to confuse this swollen lymph node with a breast cancer lump but if a woman has received the Covid-19 vaccine recently, it is only a late side effect of the vaccine shot. Interestingly, this swollen lymph also appears on a breast mammogram despite feeling no swelling or pain.
This new side effect has surged the Society of Breast to advise women not to get any mammograph within four weeks of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine. This post-vaccination inflammation is very common and is completely harmless. It doesn’t require treatment and mostly goes away on its own.
But its appearance on a mammogram giving it a false diagnosis of breast cancer lump can cause fear and anxiety in women because the lymph nodes are never this enlarged or inflamed when you don’t have cancer. Those who hurry to get further medical checkups will continue fearing unless it is turned out to be harmless.
Any swelling of lymph nodes that shows up on a scan is nothing but a red flag because it is hard to determine if it is cancer without further testing. But nearly 50% of breast cancer patients experience this type of swelling so its appearance in the mammograph is certainly frightening.
This presence of a swollen lymph node could also show leukemia or lymphoma if not breast cancer but in every way, it can cause undue fear and anxiety. Normally when these show up on a scan, the patient is advised to get a biopsy which is the easiest way to test the malignancy of growing cancer.
This reaction is particularly common after receiving the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine which sometimes feels like a breast cancer lump. Also, it shows up in both Moderna as well as Pfizer vaccine so it is not related to the ‘formula’ of a certain vaccine.
Interestingly, it can show up in men too. Some of the women who received their vaccine went for a breast screening test after their second dose, fearing that they might have cancer.
The recommendations of the Society of Breast Imaging and case reports from patients urge all healthcare units to inform women about these potential side effects and re-schedule their mammograms for one month after they get their second dose.
This swelling shows up in the armpit which is the site of Covid-19 vaccine. If a patient feels a lump, instead of rushing to a hospital, they should relax and give it some time to heal. Typically, the lump goes away in three to four weeks, and if it doesn’t go, they can schedule a checkup or mammogram.
If there are any other signs that co-occur with this swelling, it is advised to get medical help. Some of the warning signs of breast cancer that may show up in some patients with or without receiving Covid-19 vaccines are as follws.
- Swelling in breast
- Irritation, redness or pain in breast
- Redness or dryness in areola
- Pain in nipples or discharge
- Change in the appearance or size in breast