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Vaccine side effect women should look out for

According to the CDC, one side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine is swollen lymph nodes that can be mistaken as a sign of cancer.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — If you're now vaccinated and finally getting to doctor appointments you might have been putting off, the CDC is putting out some new guidance for women and their annual mammogram appointments.

Dr. Priya Sareen is the imaging director for Breast Health Services at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

"What we are finding is that women who have had the COVID vaccine on the side that they are receiving the vaccination, they will sometimes have swollen lymph nodes in the armpit region which we can see on a mammogram," said Dr. Sareen.

She says swelling from the vaccine can be mistaken as a sign of breast cancer.

Enlarged lymph nodes can show up after two days of being vaccinated and last between four to 12 weeks.

"Basically whenever you receive a vaccine, it's normal for your lymph nodes to become swollen. It's a good sign that your body is mounting an immune response which is what you want your body to do when you receive a vaccine. We capture a portion of the armpit region on a mammogram and those are going to be lymph nodes that tend to swell because of their close proximity to where you are receiving the vaccine," said Dr. Sareen.

Dr. Sareen says this should not discourage women from getting the vaccine or scheduling their annual mammogram.

And especially if you have a history of breast cancer or are having issues, do not delay your mammogram.

"Women who have a new lump or they are having pain or nipple discharge, for example, those are indications for what is called a diagnostic mammogram-that we are encouraging women to still come in right away. It's more of a time-sensitive issue. An acute issue or problem."

Doctors recommend scheduling your mammograms before being vaccinated or four to 12 weeks after your second dose.