Cervical lymphadenopathy following coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine: clinical characteristics and implications for head and neck cancer services

J Laryngol Otol. 2021 Nov;135(11):1025-1030. doi: 10.1017/S0022215121002462. Epub 2021 Sep 16.


Objective: Patients with coronavirus disease vaccine associated lymphadenopathy are increasingly being referred to healthcare services. This work is the first to report on the incidence, clinical course and imaging features of coronavirus disease vaccine associated cervical lymphadenopathy, with special emphasis on the implications for head and neck cancer services.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of all patients referred to our head and neck cancer clinics between 16 December 2020 and 12 March 2021. The main outcomes measured were the proportion of patients with vaccine-associated cervical lymphadenopathy, and the clinical and imaging characteristics.

Results: The incidence of vaccine-associated cervical lymphadenopathy referrals was 14.8 per cent (n = 13). Five patients (38.5 per cent) had abnormal-looking enlarged and rounded nodes with increased vascularity. Only seven patients (53.9 per cent) reported full resolution within an average of 3.1 ± 2.3 weeks.

Conclusion: Coronavirus disease vaccine associated cervical lymphadenopathy can mimic malignant lymphadenopathy and therefore might prove challenging to diagnose and manage correctly. Healthcare services may encounter a significant increase in referrals.

Keywords: COVID-19 Vaccine; Head And Neck Cancer; Head And Neck Neoplasms; Lymphadenopathy; Neck; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / virology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lymphadenopathy / chemically induced*
  • Lymphadenopathy / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / pathology
  • Neck / virology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • COVID-19 Vaccines