HEALTH: Despite Scares from COVID Vaccine, Mammograms Still Vital

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

HEALTH:

Sept. 21, 2021 – We’ve known for months now that COVID-19 vaccines can cause a reaction that may give women a breast cancer scare. Scientists and doctors agree that mammograms are still vital.

These changes are temporary and should not be considered alarming.

“The COVID vaccine creates an immune response in the body. It is possible that there could be swelling in the lymphnodes after the vaccine. These lymph nodes are home to immune cells called B cells.” Zeina Nahleh MD, director, Maroone Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Weston Hospital, says that these lymph nodes can cause swelling.

“When they respond to the vaccines, they generate antibodies, and the buildup of antibodies in the lymph nodes may cause enlarged (breast) lymph nodes.”

Advocates, oncologists, and Nahleh recommend that you either do your screening mammogram before being vaccinated or wait 1 to 2 months after.

This will allow you to determine if your lymph nodes have grown or if they are just side effects of the vaccine. She suggests that you delay your mammogram for 6-8 weeks if there’s no immediate need.

Other clinicians advise women to still get mammograms, even if they’ve recently gotten the vaccine. Randy Hicks MD, co-owner of Regional Medical Imaging in Michigan and CEO, said that they continue to screen thousands more women each year, even during the pandemic. By noting whether patients have received the COVID vaccine, and which arm, they can account for possible side effects.

This minor observation explains the swollen lymph nodes in the mammogram.

Hicks also notes that new artificial intelligence technology can improve doctors’ accuracy while reading mammograms and reduce false positives and unnecessary callbacks for women.

The coronavirus shouldn’t discourage you from seeking treatment for breast cancer.

But it is important for breast cancer patients to be vaccinated, considering they stand the chance of a weakened immune system.

Your immune system fights off any diseases your body encounters every day. If it is compromised, it would not be as effective, and this can lead to opportunistic infections.

“If you have a lower immunity, you want to get a vaccine to help fight the virus in case it gets into your body. The problem with it is that it [the vaccine] might not work as well in patients with lowered immune systems than in patients with normal immunity,” says Hicks.

To make the vaccine more effective in patients with cancer, Hicks and the CDC recommend that patients receive a booster shot 6-8 months after their second shot. This will increase the immune system’s ability to fight the virus.

Despite all of this, it is normal that people might worry about getting sick, which is why Hicks suggests doing the things that you worry about instead of putting them off. He also tells patients to eat the right things, like fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, and engage in outdoor activities.

“Maintaining healthy habits are the best way to manage stress for any patient, and not unhealthy habits,” Nahleh says.

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