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  • Scripps Health

How to Schedule a Mammogram During Coronavirus Pandemic: What to Know

Screening mammograms and COVID-19 vaccines are important

Scheduling an annual screening mammogram remains the best way to detect any early signs of breast cancer. However, some people have had questions about scheduling a mammogram during the COVID-19 pandemic. How safe are health facilities? Can I postpone my mammogram? Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect my mammogram?

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. Breast cancer is still the second most common cancer among women in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research shows it is easier to treat breast cancer when it is caught early. A screening mammogram is used to look for signs of breast cancer in women who don’t have any breast symptoms or problems.

Health care facilities, like those at Scripps, are still safe places for mammograms, with enhanced precautions in place to protect patients, doctors, nurses and staff from potential exposure to the coronavirus.

“If you are overdue for one, we encourage you to schedule your annual screening mammogram and work with your doctor if you have any questions,” says Rebecca Hsu, MD, a diagnostic radiologist at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center and Scripps Clinic. “Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.”

COVID vaccine and mammograms

If you are unable to schedule your screening mammogram before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors recommend having your mammogram done a minimum of four weeks after receiving your second vaccine dose. This applies to two-dose vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer.

The reason for this recommendation is that some women who receive these vaccines develop swollen lymph nodes, usually under the arm on the same side of the body where the vaccine was injected. This is a normal immune reaction to the vaccine and generally subsides within four weeks. It’s not yet known if the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine may have a similar effect.