Common COVID-19 vaccine side-effects mirror breast cancer symptoms


DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, some people are reporting swelling under the arm following their first and second doses. Doctors with Kettering Health Network said the common side-effect is also causing confusion during mammograms.

Dr. Meghan Musser, Director of Kettering Breast Evaluation Center said enlarged lymph nodes is a normal response to the body building up immunity from the vaccine but enlarged lymph nodes can also be a sign of breast cancer.

“Having those swollen lymph nodes are completely normal after having a vaccine. Your immune system is working. It’s doing its job. Your lymph nodes are going to fight off infections, and so having those lymph nodes are completely normal. It’s also okay if you don’t have it. It doesn’t mean your body is not doing its job,” she said.

According to the CDC, 11 percent of people who receive the vaccine will experience swollen lymph nodes after one dose. 16 percent of people will experience swollen lymph nodes after the second dose. They said the swelling has gone away in 1-2 weeks in almost all cases.

Doctors advice against skipping regular screenings all together. At KHN, they’ll ask if you’ve had the vaccine, what dose, and what arm just in case they see abnormalities. It’s not recommended, but you can have your exam scheduled a few weeks after you receive the vaccine to avoid confusion. If you have recently received a COVID-19 vaccine and enlarged lymph nodes are identified on a mammogram, a short-term follow-up may be recommended.

“A screening mammogram only takes 15 minutes. But it’s 15 minutes that can save your life so we want women to come in for those,” said Dr. Musser.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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