Automated Breast Ultrasound Systems – The Future of Breast Screening

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer and the second leading cause of death among women, as evident from stats revealed by the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Growing awareness of breast cancer has increased number of women undergoing breast screening and in turn would propel demand for automated breast ultrasound systems (ABUS) in hospitals and diagnostic centers. ABUS enables physicians to screen women, especially with denser breasts and provides superior image quality, thus providing them a competitive edge over handheld ultrasound systems (HHUS)

The global automated breast ultrasound systems market was valued at US$ 236.5 million in 2015 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 21.6% during the forecast period (2016 – 2024).

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ABUS are primarily used for screening purpose in adjunct to mammography

ABUS are approved by the U.S. FDA for screening in conjunction with mammography for dense breasts. Radiologists are inclined towards adoption of ABUS as they provide high quality 3D images. Surgeons are adopting this system for pre-operative evaluation of breast to accurately identify the tumor size and location. HHUS are mainly preferred for preoperative evaluation as compared to ABUS, due to high cost associated with ABUS and lack of skilled radiologists to operate the ABUS system during the crucial preoperative period.

High prevalence of breast cancer and awareness campaigns driving demand for ABUS in developed countries

Factors attributable to the growth of ABUS in North America and European markets include increased patient awareness, high uptake of early breast screening, and availability of funds to install relatively expensive ABUS.

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 232,924 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2013. Moreover, the American Cancer Society estimates that until 2016 there are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • According to the Cancer Research UK, the incidence rate of breast cancer in the U.K is expected to rise by 2% from 2014 to 2035
  • Public Health England launched a campaign called ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ (2015) to raise breast cancer awareness among women over 70 years. Moreover, research and development in the field is encouraged through the Breast Cancer Now Catalyst Programme (2016).

High prevalence coupled with government awareness drives are driving demand for ABUS in the U.S. and U.K.

Increasing awareness programs related to breast cancer driving demand in Asia-Pacific region

Asia-Pacific possess immense revenue potential for the growth of ABUS market. Demand for ABUS in Asia-Pacific in terms of volume is expected to increase at a CAGR of 24.4% during 2016 – 2024. Lack of awareness had deterred the uptake of early breast screening until various cognizance initiatives were undertaken by ABUS manufacturers and non-profit and regional cancer organizations. Some noteworthy initiatives include The Pink Initiative organization in India, Breast Cancer Initiative East Africa Inc. and Pink Ribbon Breakfast initiative by Cancer Australia. Moreover, denser breast tissues in the Chinese population is driving demand for ABUS in China at a rapid pace.

Automated breast ultrasound systems manufacturers are following inorganic strategies to increase their footprint

Inorganic growth roadmap is the key strategy followed by market leaders. For instance, GE Healthcare acquired U-Systems, Inc. in 2014 to expand their breast care innovations portfolio. Philips partnered with SonoCine, Inc. in 2014 to provide ABUS imaging for its ultrasound systems. Hitachi Aloka Medical America, Inc. entered into a strategic alliance with iVu Imaging Corporation in 2014, gaining exclusive distribution rights for iVu’s SOFIA (ABUS) system in North America.  This agreement helped iVu Imaging Corporation to get access to the expanded channel and also helped both the companies to leverage the technical expertise of the other which further improved the performance of SOFIA.

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