Breast cancer is the leading cause of fatality in women. This is defined as cancer which occurs in the cells which line the inner surface of milk lobules or the milk ducts in the human breasts. These are termed as ductal carcinoma while the ones in the milk lobules are lobular carcinomas. Apart from conducting a physical examination, 2D images such as mammograms and breast screening images are required by radiologists for the purpose of diagnosis. During the last decade (2004 to 2014) there has been a steady increase in the global prevalence of breast cancer and a rapid increase in the number of deaths owing to it. Females undergoing hormone replacement therapy and the ones across the age of 40 years are more prone to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Even though the rate of morbidity due to breast cancer is higher in developed nations, the number of deaths owing to this form of cancer is higher in the less developed nations which have lower levels of financial resources. This is due to the fact that in the less developed nations the majority of females who are diagnosed with breast cancer are in the terminal stages while on the other hand in better-developed nations there is an early diagnosis of cancer which allows enough time for intervention and treatment. The international associations for healthcare are thus urging the governments of such nations to ensure the advancement of cancer diagnosis equipment to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment. Increasing global population with a growing female geriatric segment, life expectancy rates, growing awareness in the patients and the implementations of programs by healthcare organizations and governments to provide early diagnosis are the factors which will drive the growth for the breast cancer diagnosis.
The product segments available for breast imaging equipment are breast MRI, mammography, nuclear imaging, breast ultrasound and tomosynthesis. The most fundamental test for diagnosis of breast cancer is mammography. It uses a small dose of x-rays directed through breast tissue to acquire 2D images. The second most widely used test is a breast ultrasound. This is mainly due to the ability of ultrasound to clearly image micro-calcifications even through fatty and dense breast tissue. Most commonly the micro-calcifications are the initial signs of breast cancer. Along with breast ultrasound, breast MRI is also found useful for diagnosis in females with relatively dense breast tissue and measure breast density. While UV uses higher frequency sound waves for imaging, for breast MRI the most common contrasting agent used is gadolinium-DPTA. This combined with the specificity with which tumor can be detected using MRI there is a wide range of breast conditions which can be detected by it thereby increasing its applicability. Nuclear imaging for breast cancer diagnosis is used for restaging of repeated occurrences of cancer.
North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and RoW are the major geographies analyzed in this study. North America owing to the availability of sophisticated healthcare infrastructure and increase in female geriatric population is expected to lead the market for breast imaging equipment. Asia-Pacific is expected to show high levels of growth in the said market owing to the introduction of healthcare reforms aimed at improving breast cancer diagnosis and the growing healthcare awareness levels amongst patients in emerging markets such as India, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
The key trend among the providers of breast imaging equipment is increased research and development to come up with innovative breast UV and digital mammography technology to facilitate earlier diagnosis of cancer. Key players in this market include Siemens Healthcare Corp., Philips Healthcare, SonoCine Inc., Hologic Inc., Fujifilm SonoSite Inc., GE Healthcare Ltd., Aurora Imaging Technologies Inc. and Dilon Technologies Inc.
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