Flu Shot and Mammograms

A flu shot or flu vaccination is necessary for people with breast cancer because cancer increases the risk of infections. Flu shots may cause swollen lymph nodes, which might lead to changes in mammograms. So, here are some things to think about before getting flu shots or mammograms.

You may want to think about scheduling if you are due for your yearly breast cancer screening and vaccines, especially the flu shot.

This is because some people may have swelling in the area under their arm where the shot was administered. That indicates the vaccine is working as it should. However, swelling might result in an inaccurate mammography result.

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What is a flu shot?

The flu shot, also known as the seasonal influenza vaccine, is a concoction of dead influenza viruses that primes the immune system to combat living viruses should they come into contact with the body.

The immune system is prepared to mount an attack if the viruses from the flu shot surface in your body since it is aware of them. Your body must create antibodies that can help defend you against viral infection for around two weeks after receiving the shot.

Every year, you should obtain a flu shot. The influenza viruses included in the flu vaccine change from year to year based on projections made by researchers about which ones are most likely to circulate that particular year. You should ensure your protection.

Although receiving the vaccination reduces your risk of contracting the flu, it does not guarantee that you won’t get it.

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How is this flu shot crucial for people with breast cancer?

People with weakened immune systems should take extra precautions to get vaccinated against the flu since they are more likely to experience serious complications if they do contract the illness.

These include infants, the elderly, those who have allergies, and those who suffer from acute or chronic ailments (like breast cancer).

Additionally, aging affects the immune system, raising the risk of flu-related illnesses. Ask your doctor about the new high-dose flu shots that are available for persons over 65 if you are 65 years of age or older. [ref]

You should specifically obtain a flu shot because breast cancer therapies can make your immune system more susceptible to infection.

People who now have cancer or have had it in the past are more likely to experience complications from the flu, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC additionally advises getting the usual flu shot for everyone who is in close contact with you.

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When should you receive your flu shot?

When it becomes available in your area, usually in the early fall, the CDC advises taking the seasonal flu shot. Although the flu season can start as early as October, we prefer to connect it with the winter months.

Anytime is a good time to receive the flu shot if you’re getting chemotherapy. However, your doctor could urge you to hold off and have the shot when your white blood cell count is at its highest, often a day or two prior to the start of your subsequent chemotherapy cycle.

The following are the reasons for it.

  1. Any flu shot adverse effects could be mistaken for an infection. Although the majority of people don’t encounter adverse effects, others may feel sore, swollen, feverish, and/or physically uncomfortable. When your white blood cell counts are at their lowest, especially, your doctor will be actively monitoring you for any infection-related symptoms.
  2. The likelihood of the shot working better increases with your white blood cell level. It’s important to keep in mind that the flu shot will “train” these cells and your complete immune system how to respond to influenza viruses if they ever enter your body. It is better if there are more white blood cells around to fight off the viruses in the vaccine.

What if the WBCs count remains low?

You are still supposed to get your flu shot even in case your white blood cells count remains reduced throughout your chemo. Your doctor might advise delaying the flu vaccination until any major side effects from chemotherapy, such as fever, chills, or potential infection symptoms, have subsided.

Nevertheless, the best option is to consult your doctor before attempting to get your flu shot.

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Are there any side effects of the flu shot?

Like any medication, the flu vaccine carries a very small risk of serious allergic reactions. Call your doctor right away if you experience any unexpected symptoms within a few minutes to a few hours of getting the shot, such as high fever, breathing difficulties, hives, weakness, or dizziness.

Some patients may experience minor side effects from the flu vaccination, such as aches and pains, fever, soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was administered. These minor symptoms typically appear shortly after getting the shot and can continue for one to two days.

The flu virus that is in the flu vaccine is produced in egg products. If you have an egg allergy, talk to your doctor about getting the shot.

Where should you receive your flu shot?

The flu vaccination can be given by any trained medical professional, including a nurse, pharmacist, or physician.

Some insurance companies, however, will only pay for the flu vaccination if your healthcare provider administers it. Before choosing where to receive the shot, find out what your insurance covers.

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What other measures can you take to protect yourself against the flu?

Getting vaccinated against the flu is only the first step in stopping the spread of the illness. Here are some other measures to prevent the spread of diseases:

  • As advised by public health authorities and your doctor, put on a mask.
  • Encourage the flu vaccination among your friends, family, and workplace.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose.
  • Avoid touching your face, and wash your hands frequently.
  • At work, home, and school, routinely wipe down surfaces with a disinfecting cleanser.
  • If you feel unwell, stay at home and let your doctor know.
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Your health must be your first priority. We understand that getting therapy for breast cancer can be very frustrating at times and having to get a flu shot during that period can just add more to that frustration.

But, the harms of not getting a flu shot are higher than you might know which calls for immediate action.

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What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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