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Health

Common vaccine side effect prompts undue breast cancer worries, experts say – WMUR Manchester

New recommendations about when to schedule annual mammogram screenings are being made because of a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.Enlarged lymph nodes are triggering unnecessary tests and concerns. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and can become enlarged with any vaccine in men, women and children. But the combination of vaccinations and annual mammograms that were put off in 2020 is causing undue worries.Two weeks after her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in January, health care worker Deb Rufiange, of Pelham, made a frightening discovery.”I noticed a good-sized lump, like bigger than a golf ball, between my breast and my armpit,” she said.Her doctor ordered a mammogram and biopsy.”It was scary,” Rufiange said. “And then it came back: vaccine-related.”Dr. Marina Feldman, of the Elliot Breast Health Center, said one side effect of the vaccine, for both women and men, can be enlarged lymph nodes under the arm in which the shot was administered.Rufiange is not her patient, but Feldman said breast radiologists across the country are seeing false alarms in annual screenings, including at Elliot.”The goal of any vaccine, including the COVID vaccine, is to stimulate the immune system to activate it to make antibodies so that if your body ever encounters the virus, it is already ready to ward it off,” Feldman said.To help avoid unnecessary tests and anxiety, the National Society of Breast Imaging now recommends that annual screening mammograms be scheduled before the first shot or four to six weeks after the second shot, when feasible.”We here at the Elliot Breast Center, we have actually reached out to all of our patients,” Feldman said. “We just educate them that there is the possibility of them being called back, so we are giving them the option of rescheduling.”The recommendations are for annual screening mammograms only. People with screenings for other concerns should not delay care.If lymph nodes that swell after vaccination don’t resolve or go back down in about four weeks, patients should check with a doctor.

New recommendations about when to schedule annual mammogram screenings are being made because of a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Enlarged lymph nodes are triggering unnecessary tests and concerns. Lymph nodes are part of the immune system and can become enlarged with any vaccine in men, women and children. But the combination of vaccinations and annual mammograms that were put off in 2020 is causing undue worries.

Two weeks after her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in January, health care worker Deb Rufiange, of Pelham, made a frightening discovery.

“I noticed a good-sized lump, like bigger than a golf ball, between my breast and my armpit,” she said.

Her doctor ordered a mammogram and biopsy.

“It was scary,” Rufiange said. “And then it came back: vaccine-related.”

Dr. Marina Feldman, of the Elliot Breast Health Center, said one side effect of the vaccine, for both women and men, can be enlarged lymph nodes under the arm in which the shot was administered.

Rufiange is not her patient, but Feldman said breast radiologists across the country are seeing false alarms in annual screenings, including at Elliot.

“The goal of any vaccine, including the COVID vaccine, is to stimulate the immune system to activate it to make antibodies so that if your body ever encounters the virus, it is already ready to ward it off,” Feldman said.

To help avoid unnecessary tests and anxiety, the National Society of Breast Imaging now recommends that annual screening mammograms be scheduled before the first shot or four to six weeks after the second shot, when feasible.

“We here at the Elliot Breast Center, we have actually reached out to all of our patients,” Feldman said. “We just educate them that there is the possibility of them being called back, so we are giving them the option of rescheduling.”

The recommendations are for annual screening mammograms only. People with screenings for other concerns should not delay care.

If lymph nodes that swell after vaccination don’t resolve or go back down in about four weeks, patients should check with a doctor.

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