A Covid Vaccine Side Effect, Enlarged Lymph Nodes, Can Be Mi
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Coronavirus vaccinations can cause enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit or near the collarbone. The swelling is a normal reaction by the immune system to the vaccine. But the enlarged lymph nodes show up as white blobs on mammograms and chest scans, resembling images that can indicate the spread of cancer from a tumor in the breast or elsewhere in the body.

The swelling in the armpit was a recognized side effect in the large trials of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. In Moderna’s study, 11.6% of patients reported swollen lymph nodes after the first dose, and 16% after the second dose. Pfizer-BioNTech appeared to have a lower incidence, with 0.3% of patients reporting it.

The condition was not listed among the reported side effects in a briefing document from the Food and Drug Administration about the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The lymph nodes in armpit area that we see on your mammogram are larger on the side where you had your recent COVID-19 vaccine. Enlarged lymph nodes are common after the COVID-19 vaccine and are your body’s normal reaction to the vaccine.

But the expert panel also cautioned that nonroutine imaging, needed to help deal with an illness or other symptoms that might indicate cancer, should not be delayed. Nor should immunization. People who have cancer are generally advised to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, particularly because they are at higher risk of dying from COVID than the general population.

In recently vaccinated people who have cancer and develop enlarged lymph nodes, it may be necessary to perform more tests, including a biopsy of the nodes. For patients undergoing treatment for cancer in one breast, the COVID shot should be given in the arm on the other side. The vaccine can also be injected into the thigh to prevent any issues with lymph node swelling.

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