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A side effect of some of the COVID-19 vaccines has women seeking medical attention fearing they may have developed breast cancer

The vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna can both cause lymph node swelling specifically under the armpits mimicking signs of breast cancer leukaemia and lymphoma.

While doctors say this swelling is temporary and harmless, they have advised women to avoid getting a mammogram less than four weeks after receiving the vaccine as this swelling can also show up as a false positive on a mammogram creating unnecessary worry.

“This type of swelling is not that unusual and can also occur due to other vaccines or illnesses because lymph nodes can swell as a part of the body’s immune response,” said Brett Parkinson, MD, medical director of Intermountain Healthcare’s Breast Care Center.

Watch the interview with Dr Parkinson below:

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Post vaccine lymph node swelling is harmless

According to Web MD,  swelling in the lymph nodes and the area in which the vaccine was injected is normal and harmless. It should go away on its own within a few weeks and can affect both men and women.

“When side effects occur, they typically last just a few days. A side effect or reaction isn’t necessarily all bad, by the way; it may indicate that the body is building protection against the virus,” said Dr Robert H Shmerlng, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing.

While the swelling is only temporary and according to participants in the vaccine trials is not painful, it can be alarming especially because it can cause possible false positives on your mammogram creating unfounded fears of cancer.

It is not a surprise

While everything we learn about COVID-19 and the vaccines produced around the world is new, this side effect was expected by medical professionals and showed up in their trials as well.
During the trials, research and observations were made to patients who developed swelling and it was ruled as harmless.

Most vaccines also have other side effects which can cause short-term discomfort. According to, these side effects can include fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, nausea and vomiting.




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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.