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Note: At UPMC, we believe in the importance of mammograms. We also encourage people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated.

If you already have a mammogram appointment, you do not need to reschedule it around the COVID-19 vaccine. If you feel strongly about rescheduling, you should reschedule your mammogram for before your vaccine appointment date.

Call UPMC Magee-Womens Imaging at 412-641-4700 or 1-800-649-4077, and we can accommodate your request. We offer easy access to mammograms, including same-day scheduling.

A mammogram is an important screening for women. It can find changes in breast tissue and lead to early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer.

Recently, swollen lymph nodes have been reported as a rare side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorization to three COVID-19 vaccines: from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.

This side effect could alter the reading of your mammogram because swollen lymph nodes are also a rare sign of breast cancer.

Here’s what you should know.

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Should I Schedule My Mammogram Around the COVID-19 Vaccine?

At UPMC, we recommend women begin to get a yearly mammogram at age 40. If you are 40 and older, you do not need a prescription for your annual routine screening mammogram.

We also encourage people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated.

If you do not currently have a mammogram appointment, you may want to consider scheduling your mammogram around the vaccine — as long as you’re not delaying care. Swollen lymph nodes are a rare side effect of the vaccine, and they could affect the reading of your mammogram.

To avoid any potential issues, the Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommends scheduling your mammogram either:

  • Before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Four weeks after getting your final dose of the vaccine.

Mammograms are a crucial part of maintaining your overall breast health. If you already have a mammogram appointment scheduled for less than four weeks after your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you do not have to reschedule it over concerns about this side effect. If you feel strongly about rescheduling, you should reschedule your mammogram for before your scheduled vaccine appointment.

If your mammography appointment is less than 4 weeks after getting the vaccine, tell your technician which arm you used to received the vaccine and whether you received the first or second dose.

If you need a mammogram and don’t yet have a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, you should try to schedule your mammogram appointment now. If you do have a vaccine appointment, you should keep that appointment and try to schedule a routine screening mammogram 4 weeks after receiving the final dose.

If your mammogram appointment is not scheduled yet, call us at 412-641-4700 or 1-800-649-4077. We will work with you to accommodate easy access now or 4 weeks after you receive the second vaccine dose if you desire.

If you have a suspicious lump or swelling in your breast, contact your doctor immediately about scheduling a diagnostic mammogram.

The COVID-19 Vaccine and Mammograms

Like many other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine may cause some side effects, which generally are mild and go away within a few days.

Some women have developed swelling in the lymph nodes under the arm in which they received the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a rare side effect caused by the vaccine activating your immune system. It typically goes away within a few days or weeks.

Swollen lymph nodes can affect mammograms because radiologists look for any changes on your scans. Swollen lymph nodes are also a rare sign of breast cancer.

According to the SBI, if your mammogram shows swollen lymph nodes, your radiologist will typically recommend a follow-up exam. Because of that, it’s important to keep the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine and your mammogram in mind.

What Should I Do If I Notice Swelling or a Lump Under My Arm?

If you notice swelling or a lump underneath your arm before getting the COVID-19 vaccine, call your doctor to get it checked out.

If you develop swelling or a lump under the arm where you received the vaccine, use a cold compress to reduce the pain and swelling. If the symptoms get worse or don’t go away after a week, call your doctor.

The UPMC Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating breast cancer. Magee-Womens Imaging can help with early diagnosis and detection. For more information, call 412-641-4700 or 1-800-649-4077, or request an appointment online.

Sources

Society of Breast Imaging, SBI Screening Mammography Recommendations for Women Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine. Link

About UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital

For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has provided high-quality medical care to women at all stages of life. Nationally recognized in gynecology by U.S. News & World Report, UPMC Magee is long renowned for its services to women and babies, but also offers a wide range of care to men as well. Nearly 10,000 babies are born each year at Magee, and the hospital’s NICU is one of the largest in the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and the Magee-Womens Research Institute is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology.