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Enlarged axillary lymph nodes after COVID vaccine

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orangeflower
orangeflower Member Posts: 95

FYI - I got a non-contrast CT scan today due to a cough, and my lungs were clear, but they found that my axillary lymph nodes on the breast cancer side were "borderline enlarged" and it was "nonspecific" (whatever that means). It's the same side where I got the first COVID vaccine shot three weeks ago, and the oncology nurse said the vaccine is a possible cause. I'm waiting to hear back from my oncologist about what happens next. Obviously, I'm worried because it's on the cancer side. I read that the COVID vaccine-related axillary lymph node swelling can happen on the side where you get the shot, and I wish someone had told me this before I got the vaccine so I could have gotten it on the right side instead. Now I am worried about recurrence. If you haven't gotten the vaccine yet, I would talk to your doctor about this issue.

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  • wallycat
    wallycat Member Posts: 1,311
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    Yeah, my shot side swelled to the size of a small baseball and tender. It took quite a few days and I think most of the swelling is going down. I got the Moderna, which seems to have more side effects (larger dose per injection could be the cause). CDC and Mammogram centers are asking women NOT to schedule appointments because of how much of this they are seeing post covid vaccine.

  • TinyDancer5
    TinyDancer5 Member Posts: 217
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    My Gynecologist's office sent me via email last month regarding the Covid vax and swollen armpits.

    I thought I'd share it, BUT check with YOUR Doctor.

    Mammograms and Covid Vaccines

    One sided "swollen glands" in the armpit or collarbone area (unilateral axillary or super-clavicular lymphadenopathy) are a common side effect of the Moderna COVID vaccine, and also less frequently seen with the Pfizer vaccine. Vaccines of all types can result in temporary swelling of the lymph nodes, which may be a sign that the body is making antibodies in response as intended.

    Because these swollen glands can be confused with signs of breast cancer, screening mammograms should be scheduled either before the first dose of the vaccine or four to six weeks after the second dose.

    Diagnostic mammograms (for a breast abnormality) should not be delayed, but the date of the vaccine as well as the location (right or left arm) will be noted on the requisition for any mammogram which is scheduled after a recent COVID-19 vaccination.


  • ctmbsikia
    ctmbsikia Member Posts: 757
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    Sorry orangeflower-I hope and trust all will be good!

    I too am winging it. Got my 1st shot on Monday, in my right arm. Going for diagnostic mammo only on my left breast on the 15th (follow up birads 3). Both were important, I'm sure they'll ask and I'll tell them and trust nothing regarding this vaccine shows up. I feel fine, btw. No swelling. Got Moderna.

  • ravensally
    ravensally Member Posts: 45
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    I have swollen lymph's and pain two weeks after the moderna shot, but on the opposite side of the vaccination. So it's on the cancer side. Since it's supposed to be on the same side as the vaccine, I have a bit of worry it's a recurrence. I'm going in for full mammogram and ultrasound next week. Has anyone had the swelling on the opposite side?

  • choochoobella
    choochoobella Member Posts: 25
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    I had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, April 17. One week later, on Saturday, April 24, I woke up with very swollen painful lymph nodes in my right armpit and a lot of swelling in the area above where my right breast used to be. I called my oncologist who felt very sure that it was a reaction to the Covid vaccine. She said I could take NSAIDs and/or Tylenol for the pain and use ice on the area. She said the swelling, which was on the same side as my vaccine shot, was evidence of my body mounting an immune response to the vaccine. The swelling and pain haven't subsided yet, but it has only been 3 days. She said to call again if nothing had changed in a week.

    Update on 5/10/2021: I had my second Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, May 8 at noon. I felt great until 9pm Saturday when I hit a brick wall of fever, nausea, aching muscles and raging headache. I've been asleep for 36 of the past 38 hours. The enlarged lymph nodes and swelling in my right armpit (vaccine in right arm) are back. No change in symptoms after 38 hours. I hope the side effects subside soon.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    I'm so glad to see I'm not alone! I noticed a tender, swollen node in my L armpit a week after I had my second COVID shot. Both my cancer (unilateral mastectomy with very good prognosis afterwards) and my vaccines were on the left. It was perfectly reasonable to assume the node was due to the shot, but I was still concerned due to the node swelling well after I'd recovered from my other vaccine SEs.

    My oncologist said to wait a week to see if it changed. A week later, the tenderness is gone, and I think it may have reduced, but my imagination is making it difficult to be sure. Finding this thread and the attached article has made me feel much more confident. The node may be activated for up to 6 weeks, but at least it's because it's doing good things for my body.

    Swollen Lymph Nodes and the COVID-19 Vaccine: What to Know

  • beesie.is.out-of-office
    beesie.is.out-of-office Member Posts: 1,435
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    This recent study found that in a significant percent of cases, lymph node swelling from the vaccine is lasting longer than 6 weeks:

    COVID-19 Vaccine-Related Adenopathies Lingering Longer Than Anticipated https://www.diagnosticimaging.com/view/covid-19-va...


    "Based on their analysis, the interpreters determined 29 percent of patients had positive axillary uptake seven-to-10 weeks after their second vaccination dose. Specifically, 42 percent, 31 percent, 25 percent, and 19 percent had these findings at week 7, week 8, week 9, and week 10, respectively, the team said.


    And, these lingering findings are also being seen with breast imaging. Stamatia Destounis, M.D., FACR, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care in Rochester, New York, confirmed she is seeing the same findings in screening mammography in her practice.


    "Now, it can be several weeks later after both vaccines are completed that we are still seeing quite large lymph nodes," she said. "We're seeing them on both sides, and it can take up to 12 weeks for these lymph nodes to go down in some patients.
    "


  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Holy cow that's a long time! That's crazy.

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    I got the ultrasound on my lymph nodes 5 weeks after the second vaccine shot, and they're still swollen, but the radiologist thinks this is very likely still due to the shot. She said that they're an even shape and they would be an irregular shape if it was the cancer. Nonetheless, they're having me come back for another ultrasound in three months to be on the safe side.


    I got the second shot on the right side, which is the non-cancer side. The first shot was on the left. That was about 8 weeks prior to the ultrasound. The swollen nodes were found by chance when I got a CAT scan in between the vaccine shots for a chronic cough I was having. (The CAT scan was normal, and they think the cough was due to allergies or reflux because I started taking an allergy medicine and a higher dose of my antacid, and the cough doesn't happen much anymore.)

  • jrnj
    jrnj Member Posts: 407
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    I am so glad I saw this thread. I was freaking out that I have thyroid cancer, now I am thinking the lump in my throat when I swallow is swollen lymph nodes from the vaccine. Makes sense, as it started after the vaccine. I had it last year also post chemo. Maybe also lymph nodes working to rebuild my immunities after chemo. It's been about 8 weeks since the vaccine and I still have it.

    Beesie, The literature talks about armpit, and axillary, but my neck is swollen. Does this make sense? I had a neck ultrasound today, so will get the results in a few days. I've seen three Drs. in the last few weeks. How come no one is aware of this? Why am I surprised, the Rheumatologist gave me a steroid shot the day after the COVID Shot, which you are not supposed to do.

  • jrnj
    jrnj Member Posts: 407
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    Bad news. I have three nodules on my thyroid, two are TI-rad 4, one is Ti-rad 3, the big one, and they are recommending biopsy. I am reading the report myself, as it was released late this afternoon and my Dr. hasn't called me. I don't even have an endocrinologist, my primary ordered the scan. I am freaking out and having flashbacks of cancer biopsy, birads 4. I knew something was really wrong, not being able to swallow, every hyperthyroid symptom to the extreme and blood test high for thyroglobin antibodies, that they say are normal, but Dr. Google says they are not, and my Dr. told me I was crazy and should stop googling information. I can't take it anymore!!!!! Being misdisnosed so many times and treated like shit by Drs. who think I am an idiot an they are god. I have had this problem for 14 months (lump in throat)! Not one of my 10 Drs. recommended an ultrasound until I finally asked for it. I've been doing my own treatment plans since 8/2019. Scared I'll feel vulnerable and not be able to research Drs. an will go with the first available out of despiration like last time. I have an appointment with a endocrinologist in November, Do they take you sooner when you have a diagnosis? Even its not cancer, I've been suffering hyperthyroid symptoms and can't wait 6 months.


  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    Hi JRNJ. I'm sorry to hear about the nodules on your thyroid. Hopefully it turns out to be something very treatable.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Good luck JRNJ! We're pulling for you. I'm sorry you're having a tough time finding a doc who will listen to you.

  • jrnj
    jrnj Member Posts: 407
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    Orangeflower and Miriandra, Thank you for the support. I'm a mess. My primary refused to write me a prescription for the thyroid biopsy because he was reading the report wrong, even though I told his nurse I spoke to the radiologist (the report was a little confusing). I literally could not believe it, I was so fuming mad. I got into an ENT later that day and he wrote it for me, but I still won't have it til June 7th or later, they're booked. I've been so sick with worry, but trying to forget about it because you can't rush the process. Meanwhile the ENT says the lump in my throat when I swallow is not from the nodules. Really? Maybe allergies and is sending me for a throat swallow test, but they're booked til end of June. So now I am back to the COVID thing. I have had a lump in my throat since my COVID shot, is there a relationship? The ENT says no. But they also told me my arm pain was not due to my cancer, but yet it went away after the cancer was removed.

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    Oh JRNJ, that sounds so stressful! Hang in there, you will find out what it is within a couple of weeks most likely.

  • buttonsmachine
    buttonsmachine Member Posts: 339
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    JRNJ, I hope you find some answers soon. To me it seems like they should at least consider the possibility that some of what you're experiencing is from the covid vaccine. I mean, these vaccines are relatively new and we may not know the full side effect profile yet! Also, the lymph nodes in your neck are in close proximity to where the shot is given, and according to my LE therapist would likely be working harder after the vaccine. That is why my LE therapist suggested I get the covid vaccine in my hip or lower extremity, but I have lymphedema that can flare pretty badly at times.

    RavenSally, any updates on your swelling on the opposite side?

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Good news! My lymph node ultrasound came back normal. The swelling was indeed an immune response from the COVID vaccine.

    A few weeks after I contacted my oncologist, the swelling went down and isn't even palpable now. But it's reassuring to get it confirmed that nothing bad is going on.

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    That's good Mirianda. My ultrasound last month found that my lymph nodes were still swollen but it's "very likely" due to the vaccine. Still, the doctor wants me to come back after three months to establish their "stability". I sure as hell hope they're right about it because I just failed endocrine therapy due to intolerable side effects. I'm going to lose it if I have a regional recurrence.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Fingers crossed for you Orangeflower!

  • francesca30
    francesca30 Member Posts: 63
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    i’m so glad i found this thread. i just had a petct scan yesterday and 6 right axillary nodes, a pelvic node, a mediastinal node lit up. Radiologist said it’s probably caused by the vaccine I had 5 weeks ago and should have a follow up. But isn’t the pelvic node far from the vaccine area (which is my right arm)? i’m so scared and i hope i’ll be able to handle my anxiety while waiting for my next scan to check on them (which will be in 3months). praying really hard this is all cause of the vaccine.

  • buttonsmachine
    buttonsmachine Member Posts: 339
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    Francesca, definitely follow up, but if it gives you any peace of mind in the meantime, it seems as though even distant lymph nodes can enlarge after the Covid vaccines, and can remain enlarged for longer than previously thought (10+ weeks). Hopefully that's all it is.

  • francesca30
    francesca30 Member Posts: 63
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    @buttonsmachine thank you! praying and keeping my fingers crossed it’s vaccine related til my next scan in October

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    Update: I went in for my three-month ultrasound today to determine whether the enlarged lymph nodes were stable. Long story short, I will need a biopsy.

    The enlarged lymph nodes that they found a few months ago actually went back down to normal size, so the radiologist said they were probably enlarged due to the COVID vaccine. *But*, she found another enlarged lymph node that was apparently not seen during the original ultrasound. She said lymph nodes can be "hiding". Anyway, my last vaccine shot was in April, and she said she would be surprised if this node was enlarged because of the vaccine. The ultrasound report says "BIRADS 4" and "mildly suspicious". It said the node "demonstrates a slightly prominent 5mm cortex."

    I'm just astonished right now, and I'm really scared. I tried most of the different hormone medicines and had to stop them in June due to intolerable side effects.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Oh no! I hope the "mildly suspicious" turns out to be "just checking to be sure - but all's well".

    Sending positive vibes to Orangeflower and Francesca! (((hugs)))

  • francesca30
    francesca30 Member Posts: 63
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    Hi Everyone! just want to give you an update on my petscan . Initial reading - the nodes are still there except for the subcarinal node (it didn’t light up anymore). The others have decreased in intensity and size. The doctor who gave me the initial reading said he highly thinks it’s inflammatory and not cancer but best to do a follow up which will be decided on by my MO. My question is, has anyone experienced non cancer reactive nodes with an suv uptake of 7-8?

  • orangeflower
    orangeflower Member Posts: 95
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    I should have updated this thread. My biopsy turned out to be normal.

  • miriandra
    miriandra Member Posts: 2,105
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    Good news from you both!