Both breast cancer survivors and those currently living with breast cancer may have concerns about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. However, evidence suggests these vaccines are safe and effective, with many experts recommending that most people with breast cancer, or a history of breast cancer, get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them. It is also important to speak with a doctor about timings to receive the vaccine if a person is receiving cancer treatment.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe in people with breast cancer or a history of the disease. The vaccines can protect against severe complications from a SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is a potential risk for people undergoing breast cancer treatment.
Breast cancer refers to cells growing uncontrollably in breast tissue, and it can spread to other areas. People with this condition can have a weakened immune system, typically due to treatment to prevent or remove breast cancer cells.
This article discusses the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in individuals with breast cancer or a history of the disease.
The COVID-19 vaccinations are safe for people with breast cancer. They do not contain live viruses, which means they are safe for those undergoing certain breast cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, which may affect the immune system.
A potential worry for people undergoing breast cancer treatments that could weaken the immune system is that the body will be unable to mount an effective immune response. This may be a concern as evidence indicates that
However, while research is still unclear how effective the vaccines are in these individuals, as they are at a higher risk for potential complications, some level of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection is better than not having any protection at all.
It is also worth noting that some people who receive a COVID-19 vaccine may have swollen lymph nodes under the arm in which they received the vaccine. As this can be a potential sign of breast cancer spread, it is
According to the
However, while research is still ongoing, some evidence suggests that the vaccine could be less effective at preventing COVID-19 in people undergoing some cancer treatments. Despite this, some
Despite the vaccine potentially being less effective, it will still produce greater protection against COVID-19 and its possible complications than no vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccines are
Doctors are more concerned about how effective COVID-19 vaccines are in people with cancer rather than their safety. According to the
- swelling and pain at the injection site
- muscle and headaches
People with breast cancer may experience
People with breast cancer are at a
While rare, it is also possible for some forms of breast cancer treatment, such as radiation, to cause long-lasting side effects resulting in complications of the lungs.
However, the immune system should gradually recover after completing breast cancer treatment. People with fully recovered immune systems could be at the same risk from COVID-19 as the general population.
There are several treatment options for people with breast cancer. The type of treatment will depend on the stage, type, and other health-related factors. The main types of treatment include:
Some of these treatments affect the body’s immune system. For example, chemotherapy suppresses the immune system, which can reduce its ability to fight off infections. This is the reason that individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment may be at a higher risk of COVID-19.
The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are all available for use in the U.S. According to the
The organization also suggests taking the first vaccine available is currently the best option for individuals with cancer after checking with their doctor. Additionally, research is currently underway to directly compare the vaccines for their effectiveness and safety. The results of these studies may influence this advice.
People with breast cancer or a history of the disease should get the COVID-19 vaccine in most cases. The vaccine can provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection. As people with weakened immune systems, including those undergoing breast cancer treatment, may be at a higher risk of potential complications, it is advisable that they get the vaccine and that they continue following safety guidelines.
Individuals undergoing cancer treatment may need to consult with their cancer doctor first to discuss the best options for them, including timings about receiving the vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. While the vaccine may not offer full protection to immunocompromised individuals, it can still provide some level of protection, which is better than none at all.
It is also worth noting that the vaccine can enlarge the lymph nodes in the armpit, which could affect mammogram results.