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COVID-19 vaccine could cause false breast cancer diagnosis

Doctors suggest postponing mammogram after taking COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 9:55 AM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 09:55:52-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — More than 45,000 people in Leon County have received one or both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite a large number of our community taking the shot, there are still many fearful of the shot and what comes along with it. Florida A & M University Director of Student Health Services Tanya Tatum says there's no reason to fear the shot.

"I would say that the risk to your health are much greater of getting COVID than of taking the vaccine. If I was a gambling person, I would gamble on the vaccine," said Tatum.

One factor to the fear is side effects and the severity of them.

"The first shot I got, there was some soreness. No more than the flu shot I get every year," said Tatum.

Common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include pain near where you received the shot and flu-like symptoms.

"The vaccines are safe. They've gone through fairly rigorous clinical trials. Three sets of clinical trials," she said.

Capital Regional Medical Center Breast Center Manager Amy Allen says there is one side effect that has doctors asking you to postpone your mammogram.

"Many patients have come in and it shows on our screening indications of lymphadenopathy," said Allen.

Lymphadenopathy is more commonly known as swollen lymph nodes. Some people are reporting the symptom on the side where they receive the show. Those swollen lymph nodes then show up on mammogram imaging. Lymph nodes are a part of your body's immune system. Swelling indicates the body is responding to the vaccine and building up antibodies. But it can also sometimes be an indicator of breast cancer.

"We don't want any false positives coming back or anything that could be linked to breast cancer so we're doing everything we can to be preventative," said Allen.

Doctors now suggest waiting four to six weeks after the second COVID-19 vaccine before getting a mammogram. That way, the diagnosis is more definitive. However, if there are more reasons to be concerned about breast cancer, don't delay a visit to the doctor.

"If any patient does have signs or symptoms of any type of abnormality, we're asking them not to delay care. we're asking them to come in and have that mammogram performed," said Allen.