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Health experts say not to delay breast cancer screenings after COVID vaccination

A doctor and a patient discuss results in an exam room, one is a white female wearing a mask and the other a Black female wearing a mask and a blue dress.
CDC/Robert Denty

A recent study from New York University says there’s no need to delay breast cancer screenings after receiving the COVID vaccine. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

Some people experience swollen lymph nodes after receiving a COVID vaccine, which can show up during breast cancer screenings. That prompted the Society of Breast Imaging to suggest delaying exams for four to six weeks after vaccination. But a study of more than twelve hundred patients showed the swelling could linger for months in some cases.

Dr. Stacey Wolfson, the lead author, says, "It’s very common to have these enlarged lymph nodes, but the time to resolution of these enlarged lymph nodes is variable, so waiting 4 to 6 weeks before getting your exam is not necessary, because we know this could occur but the time for which it’s going to resolve is very different for different individuals."

Wolfson adds, many people skipped routine breast cancer exams because of the pandemic and encourages women not to delay their screenings.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.