By Matthew Watson
The breast imaging market in 2022, like most healthcare technology markets, is not yet free of the turmoil induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Backlogs in breast cancer screening and rising costs remain pressing concerns for healthcare systems around the world. Breast cancer was the most common cancer globally in 2021, accounting for 12% of all new cases, with disruptions resulting in higher proportions of women presenting cancer symptoms in advanced stages. Hence, alongside efforts to expand access to breast imaging for screening purposes, governments, particularly in developed economies, have increasingly considered prioritising higher-risk patients. Better-designed, more inclusive screening programmes are by no means the only way to address breast cancer mortality, however. Improving the accuracy of breast imaging equipment so that missed lesions and false positives are less frequent is also of central importance for healthcare providers, supporting improved treatment quality and cost-efficiency of services.
Analysis by Signify Research suggests that revenue for the global breast imaging market will exceed $1.3 billion by 2026. However, despite a partial recovery in 2021 from the previous year, the breast imaging market is expected to experience a contraction in market revenue of 9% in 2022. Factors such as rising inflation, increasing costs of energy, shipping and raw materials, as well as shortages of semiconductors have all conspired to produce this decline.
The evolving market dynamics of breast imaging
In product terms, we expect to see some sizable changes in market segmentation by 2026. Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is one technology for which adoption is set to grow markedly in developed economies as governments seek to improve the effectiveness of screening programmes, excluding the United States where DBT is already prominently used for screening purposes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there is a forecast decline in lower-end analog and CR systems in emerging markets with the continued shift to more advanced mammography systems.
Outside of mammography, there are two notable trends in the breast imaging market: the continued importance of ultrasound and the accelerating integration of AI software. Revenues of ultrasound equipment, a modality better suited for imaging dense breast tissue and having dose benefits over mammography, are likely to be primarily driven by countries in Asia Pacific, such as China and Japan. In the case of China, plans to image 90% of eligible women by 2030 serve to reinforce this outlook.