How Covid-19 vaccines can mess with cancer detection

How Covid-19 vaccines can mess with cancer detection

While there is little or no solid research information on the survival benefits of having a Covid-19 vaccine for cancer patients, unique side-effects to do with swollen lymph nodes are emerging.

We have covered the increased mortality from Covid-19 in cancer patients. However, there is still little or no specific research with cancer patients on the benefits and risks of the vaccines. Many patients worry that their already depleted immune system cannot cope with a vaccine. A report in Cancer Therapy Advisor (1) agrees stating, ‘‘The clinical considerations related to vaccination in this population are not yet established’.

One cause of concern is a report in RSNA Radiology from a team at the University of Minnesota (2) stating that, ‘vaccination can result in axillary, supraclavicular, and/or cervical lymph node enlargement on the side of the injection’.

The report goes on to say that ‘oncologists and patients should be aware of the potential manifestations of vaccination on imaging and the consequences this might have on disease assessment, treatment monitoring, and decision-making’.

And they also state that this ‘enlargement’ could lead to confusion, misinterpretation of results and even unnecessary treatment – as if cancer patients didn’t have enough to worry about right now.

Swollen, inflamed lymph nodes have been found with other vaccines, from HPV vaccines to winter ‘flu jabs, but they weren’t given to the entire population! So be aware that PET and CT scans maybe be giving your oncologist a confusing or false picture, especially on the side of the body where you had the vaccination.

  • Helpful links

Go to: Covid-19 links to deaths in cancer patients

       *   References

  1. Covid-19 vaccination and imaging misinterpretation
  2. RSNA Radiology; Lymphadenopathy in COVID-19 Vaccine Recipients: Diagnostic Dilemma in Oncology Patients


  Approved by the Medical Board. Click Here 


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