It seems as though we’ve been going through the pandemic for years now, especially if you have other conditions that affect your health. People dealing with COVID-19, COVID vaccine, and breast cancer, live in fear every day, along with the ones who survived it and their support groups. They can never be sure about their safety or the stability of their health conditions.
It seems as if wearing a mask doesn’t matter, nor does getting the vaccines that are supposed to prevent the spread. The media says people are still dying of COVID and the Delta variant even though the FDA finally stamped their approval on the Pfizer vaccine. Still, health officials warn us about the severity of the consequences of NOT wearing protection or using sanitizer while in public.
They push the vaccine, and they should. People need to hear that it works if everyone participates. But do you want to know what else is scary? Getting the COVID vaccine and breast cancer is terrifying. Yeah, it’s become a thing, and we need to pay attention… close attention to important dates.
Connecting the COVID Vaccine and Breast Cancer Dots
When you get to a certain age or fall within certain risks, health care providers want patients to follow a particular regime. Some women are more inclined to having regular breast exams and mammograms than others.
Mammos are uncomfortable; there’s no doubt about it, but so are COVID-19 and breast cancer. You must catch this disease as early as possible, so make and keep your appointments with your imaging department. The idea is the sooner you know, the sooner you can manage the disease.
These tests find cancerous cells or precancerous cells before you start experiencing symptoms.
In addition, you will find out why some people believe there is a connection between the COVID vaccine and breast cancer. However, Lisa Mullen, M.D., breast radiologist specialist, says women should become familiar with breast cancer symptoms and warning signs because there are other signs of breast cancer besides lumps.
You could experience discharge coming from the nipple or bleeding, breast pain, swelling or redness, and changes to the nipple. If it starts to look like it’s caved in or flattens, schedule an appointment. Just so you know, there are different types of breast cancer.
COVID Vaccine and Breast Cancer Results
While the COVID-19 vaccine can cause you to have a ‘false positive’ for breast cancer, so will other vaccinations. The vaccines may temporarily cause you to have enlarged lymph nodes, altering your mammogram. So, it may only look like you have breast cancer pictures or abnormal test results.
To prevent shock, worry, and false alarms, wait about a month after getting your COVID shots before scheduling your mammo. Or if you have your mammo before getting vaccinated, you can prevent being recalled to repeat the procedure and to have additional tests.
Our bodies know when something is in there that should not be. As a result, the lymph nodes will start producing an abundance of white blood cells to fight against infection and remove it. The process might induce swelling of the lymph nodes. Still, it’s good to know the early symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer.
How Do COVID Vaccines Affect Lymph Nodes?
Any experienced medical professional can tell you that “lymph nodes under the arm where a person has gotten a vaccine can become enlarged as part of the normal immune response to the vaccine,” according to Mullen.
But on the other hand, not every vaccine will cause a person to have swollen lymph nodes. Look out for the vaccines that cause an extreme immune response like the shingles and COVID-19 vaccines. The breast imaging director also says, “that heightened immune response is normal and expected.”
“The COVID-19 vaccine is a new type of vaccine, and people are reacting strongly to it,” Mullen says.
You should start to see signs of enlarging lymph nodes after the first or second vaccination. However, they should return to regular size within a few weeks after completing the second shot. If they become large and you don’t get any relief, talk to your physician about early signs of inflammatory breast cancer.
Vaccines Can Cause Abnormal Readings
You may be relieved to know that “other vaccines that activate the immune system can change the appearance of your lymph nodes. We’re talking about vaccines such as the shingles shot, the pneumonia shot or diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (D-TaP) shot. Getting more than one vaccination at a time can cause a more prominent immune response. For example, if you get a flu shot at or near the same time as an additional vaccine.”
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, for example, depress the immune system. As a result, the CDC has warned that immunizations may not provide complete protection to immunocompromised people, leaving them exposed to new diseases. But they say having a little protection is better than having nothing at all.
The CDC suggests that immunocompromised individuals receive a third dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to improve their immune response. It has been hard to get people to get a flu shot, let alone the first COVID-19 shot. I don’t think telling them they will need three will increase the number of people eager to take the COVID vaccine.
“Every year, flu vaccine season corresponds with breast cancer awareness month, so some patients are getting mammograms when they have enlarged nodes due to the flu shot.”
Just remember, if you get a mammogram around the same time as your shot, it may not be accurate. Those lymph nodes may look large, causing the radiologist to consider the results as abnormal. It would be in your best interest to wait and to talk to your doctor about the COVID vaccine and breast cancer. And while we truly support the cause and our loved ones, no one really wants to wear a breast cancer ribbon.
“Abnormal-appearing lymph nodes on a mammogram can set off a chain of testing that is expensive and anxiety-producing.”