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Doctors urge women to delay mammogram until 4-6 weeks after COVID-19 vaccine

Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Health & Fitness

"Now, this is only for a screening mammogram. If you have a breast problem, if you feel a lump, if you feel something new in your breast, if you're called back for additional imaging after a screening mammogram, we do not want patients to delay in those cases."

When that happens, Garver said, women should tell the technologist who performs the mammogram about their vaccine history and talk to their doctor about it, and "we will take that into account when we see you."

Q: COVID-19 vaccines are still relatively scarce right now. Let's say you happen to get a coveted vaccine appointment but you've got a mammogram already scheduled within four to six weeks afterward. Should you skip the vaccine? Skip the mammogram?

A: "I would get the vaccine," Garver said. "And if you don't want to reschedule your screening mammogram, come in for it. But we just want people to be aware that this is a potential source of confusion.

"Overall, I would tend not to delay my vaccine or my screening mammogram because we also need to find cancer, and that's the job of the mammogram. So it's a balancing act.

"If you can easily reschedule your mammogram for six weeks after your vaccine, great. But if you can't, I would just get it and not worry about it. We'll take this into account. Just let the technologist know when the mammogram is performed and we will take it into account."

Q: What about other forms of medical imaging? Does this affect them as well?

A: "Yes. We can see swollen lymph nodes on any imaging test, that visualizes the armpit, for example, CAT scans, MRIs, including breast MRIs, and PET scans," Garver said.

 

"If you have one of these tests, your doctor and you should be aware that this might show up and cause some confusion. But we don't want you to necessarily delay your care. We want you to have a conversation with your doctor about this possibility.

"It's also important for people to know we don't want them to delay getting a vaccine either."

Q: Is it a concern that people will be worried about this occasional vaccine side effect, and avoid getting a shot altogether?

A: "The vaccine is incredibly important, and we don't want people to delay getting their vaccines," Garver said. "We just want to make sure people are aware that this is a very normal side effect."

It's also important not to skip mammograms, she said.

"It's a lifesaving test for women" Garver said. "I think the bottom line is: Don't delay your vaccine. Don't delay your screening mammogram. Be aware that this potential exists."

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