COVID-19 vaccine update: Radiologists report side effects mimicking breast cancer on mammograms

Radiologists are reporting a COVID-19 vaccine side effect that may trick some doctors into diagnosing a patient with breast cancer, Fox 8 Cleveland reported Wednesday.

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center said it has been seeing a high number of women with swollen lymph nodes, or axillary adenopathy, on their mammograms over the past few weeks. While such inflammation is the body’s normal response to the vaccine, it may be mistaken for something more serious.

“We also see swollen lymph nodes in patients with breast cancer, so that’s the concern there,” Holly Marshall, MD, a breast radiologist at the Cleveland-based health system, told the news outlet. “So we are asking everybody who is having a mammogram if they had the COVID-19 vaccine, what dose, when, and what side.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11% of vaccine cases lead to swollen lymph nodes after one dose, rising to 16% after the second. Such symptoms usually appear 2 to 4 days after the vaccine and decline after two weeks.

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