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Worried About a False Positive? Let’s Talk COVID-19 & Mammograms

Worried About a False Positive? Let’s Talk COVID-19 & Mammograms

For women, preventive screening and diagnostic tests are important to maintaining overall health and well-being. Mammograms, particularly, allow medical professionals to look for early signs of breast cancer—in some cases, up to three years before a lump can be felt.

Unfortunately, in the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of preventive screening and diagnostic services, such as mammograms, was greatly diminished—much in part to help minimize potential exposure to the virus among both patients and staff. Those numbers have since started to rebound as we have learned to “live” with the virus; however, the COVID-19 vaccination has presented yet another hurdle to overcome.

For some women, the COVID-19 vaccination, including the booster, can cause swelling in the lymph nodes in the underarm near where the shot was given. While this is a normal sign your body is building its protection again the virus, the swelling can create a false-positive reading on a mammogram.

To minimize your risk:

  • DO schedule your appointment before you receive your COVID-19 vaccination or wait four- to six-weeks after you receive your last dose.
  • DON’T skip getting the vaccine or a mammogram. Both offer tremendous preventive benefits to support our overall health and well-being.
  • DO follow-up with your doctor if you receive an abnormal mammogram, even if you think it might be related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • DON’T cancel your mammogram appointment if you cannot reschedule it. Instead, tell your health care provider when, and in which arm, you received the vaccine.

Preventive care, such as mammograms, is vital to maintaining overall health and well-being. Southwest General is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff as we continue to face the COVID-19 virus. We urge women not to delay in scheduling their regular screening appointments.