CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — The COVID-19 vaccine is messing with some women’s mammograms.
A side effect from the Pfizer and Moderna shots could show up as potential cancer, some local doctors say.
Doctors from both Chesapeake Regional Healthcare and Sentara Healthcare want to alert women to a new recommendation from the Society of Breast Imaging. They now advise women to schedule their mammograms before their first shot, or four to six weeks after their second dose of the vaccine.
That is, if there are no major concerns, said Dr. Roni Talukdar, co-chair of Chesapeake Health’s Breast Imaging Center.
“We don’t want them to delay if they have a lump or discharge or pain or any clinical symptom; we don’t want them delaying,” he said.
Talukdar started to notice a trend about a month ago and reached out to colleagues.
“Then you realize the handful of cases you’re seeing, there’s also a handful of cases in New York and a handful in California, and you sort of start to get that feeling that maybe this is a bigger deal,” he said.
When a radiologist reads a mammogram and finds a swollen gland, they wonder if cancer is hiding in that spot. So, they’ll call the patient back for more imaging, which can cause anxiety and cost more time and money.
However, when they find those concerning spots after a vaccine, Talukdar explained, in that case, it may not be worrisome.
“The lymph nodes, the enlargement of the lymph nodes, there’s nothing to be worried about,” he said.
It’s a sign that your body is building an immune response to fight the virus. That’s what it’s supposed to do.
“This doesn’t mean there is any problem with the vaccine; the vaccine is safe,” he told 10 On Your Side.
If you already have a mammogram scheduled, talk to your doctor about the timing. However, Talukdar strongly advises that you don’t skip either one.
“Your turn comes up, get your vaccine. This is just us trying to make sure we take care of your breast health and also take care of your overall health at the same time,” he said.