As we all know, the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused suffering on a scale the world has never seen.
This terrifying illness has taken over 570 thousand lives in the US alone – and devastated the livelihoods of millions across the globe. This sobering figure comes just over a year into the Pandemic as we approach Mother’s Day 2021.
But there is hope on the horizon with the development and disbursement of the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the delayed cancer screenings due to the pandemic – including mammograms – have already taken their toll, and led to the emergence of advanced cancers. Cancers that could have been easily treated had they been found in their earliest stages.
Recently one of our patients was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. She was so terrified of catching COVID that she delayed getting a diagnostic mammogram for an entire year.
She just had a mastectomy. Her harrowing experience could have been prevented with a mammogram.
But the fear of COVID prevented her from coming in.
While we can’t stress the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID enough, it’s important not to let a new fear – the fear of a false positive mammogram due an immune response from the COVID-19 vaccine – let you delay your breast cancer screening anymore.
COVID-19 Vaccine & False Positive Mammograms
Vaccines of all types can result in temporary swelling of the lymph nodes, which may be a sign that the body is making antibodies in response as intended.
After receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, some women develop swollen lymph nodes under their arm on the same side as the injection. Radiologists look for changes on your mammogram – including swollen lymph nodes – as it can be a (rare) sign of breast cancer.
This is why it’s important to let Bergen Imaging Center know in advance when you received your vaccine prior to scheduling your mammogram.
When should I schedule my screening mammogram?
The Society of Breast Imaging recommends scheduling breast cancer screenings:
- Prior to the first dose of the COVID vaccine
- (or) 4-6 weeks after the second dose
These guidelines are only for women with no unusual breast symptoms. If you are experiencing breast or underarm pain, or notice a lump, discharge, or any other unusual symptoms – please schedule a mammogram, regardless of when you received your vaccination.
Also, if you’ve delayed your screening mammogram due to the pandemic, and won’t be able to come in another time, please keep your mammography appointment. Remember that early detection saves lives.
Feel free to call and discuss our COVID safety protocols with us. We are here to answer any of your questions. 201-568-4242
In normal years, before a worldwide pandemic dragged on for over a year, this blog would focus on the importance of self-care for Mother’s Day, and beyond. However, since the COVID-19 vaccine just became widely available – we had to address this issue, now. But we hope that realize that your health is more than just avoiding COVID-19 – as breast cancer is still a reality that isn’t going away.
Your mammogram is self-care.
Delayed breast cancer screening mammograms can have deadly repercussions. So please remember that this year – and make your appointment so that you’re around to enjoy happier, healthier, Mother’s Days (and all days!) for years to come.