BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - WBRC’s On Your Side Investigations is rolling out a new segment to help you separate fact from fiction about COVID-19 and vaccinations.
The first installment takes up a growing concern among women: Can COVID-19 vaccines impact mammogram results?
According to experts, it’s a fact.
Vaccines prompt an immune response from the body, which often results in enlarged lymph nodes. For a percentage of women, those enlarged lymph nodes translated to a false positive mammogram and a short-term cancer scare.
Some patients discover what feels like knots on the base of their neck or underarms before going to the doctor.
“There are events where women can palpate the lymph nodes themselves, other times they are only detected on mammogram,” explained Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor, a hematologist and oncologist with UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Reasor assured enlarged lymph nodes following a vaccine is proof that it’s working and the body is doing its job.
“Lymph nodes are part of the body’s natural immune system,” she cited. “Any foreign body, anything that’s new to the body, can cause reaction that can be noted as enlargement by infections, vaccinations and even tumor cells can cause enlarged lymph nodes.”
Doctors stress, there’s no reason to delay receiving the vaccine or a mammogram.
“There’s a lot of data being collected about this”, Reasor said. “We don’t know if the enlarged lymph nodes will last a few days or even a couple of weeks.”
For those who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccination and have an upcoming mammogram appointment, Reasor says it’s important to let your provider know in advance.
“We do ask that you alert the technician that is doing your exam that you have had the COVID vaccination, therefore we can use that information to avoid false positive results.”
Reasor says most patients receiving cancer treatment are candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s important to obtain clearance from a physician first.
If you have questions about COVID-19 or a vaccine, email email@example.com. Your question could be used in an upcoming segment.