Combating breast cancer
The most prevalent cancer in women is breast cancer. Affecting both the developed and developing countries, there were over 2 million new cases in 2018 alone. Survival rates vary greatly worldwide with high rates of survival in developed market such as North America, Nordic countries and Japan and low rates of survival in emerging markets. The significant difference can be explained mainly by early detection programs. Often, in emerging markets, a high proportion of women present with late-stage disease.
Detecting breast cancer at an early stage is vital to reducing mortality rates, yet mammography screening programs have not been established in every country, and those with established programs have variable participation rates. Non-participation issues include: stress, anxiety and discomfort during breast screening (figure 1). There has been a major shift to improving patient comfort as this in turn improves image quality. Manufacturers have made ‘making breast examinations more comfortable’ a focal point in their strategy to increase participation rates.
A more personalized experience tends to improve clinical outcomes. Technological advancements in breast compression, design, speed, and environment aim to alleviate the stress associated with mammography examinations. Market growth in developed markets such as the United States, United Kingdom and Japan will be driven by increasing patient participation.
Figure 1 – Issues regarding patient participation in developed and emerging markets.
Comfort improves image quality
Compression contributes to good mammographic image quality. However, patients can experience pain during breast compression. Many companies are focusing on developing products (such as paddles and cushions) to make mammography more comfortable, thereby improving patient comfort, resulting in better quality image.
Feedback from GE Healthcare's Pristina Dueta (patient-assisted compression device) is indicating that patients who have the option to self-compress tend to compress more when they are in control rather than a radiologist. Continued development in the area will improve patient participation.
Patient comfort studies conducted by Hologic evaluated the MammoPad Breast Cushion and SmartCurve Breast Stabilization System’s (part of Hologic’s comfort solutions) effectiveness in mammography concluded continuous improvements in patient comfort during mammography will increase compliance with screening guidelines to ensure optimal cancer detection.
Novel design features are improving the patient experience
Mammograms are uncomfortable and exam rooms are often uninviting. The machines are usually intimidating and cold. In some states in the United States screening participation is below 50%, with women often not complying due to discomfort. Manufacturers are actively addressing these issues with innovative solutions.
GE Healthcare’s Sensory suite aims to reduce anxiety and make the environment more relaxing using sight, scent and sound. Other system design features include: height adjustability and breast-optimized shape, rounded corners and armrests as opposed to handgrips. The size of the systems is also shrinking allowing radiologists to have more space and interact better with the patients.
The features are helping to address hesitations women have about mammography screening. Feedback from GE Healthcare’s systems has shown mammography participation rates are increasing.
Mammography demands shifting
Over 45% of all new equipment shipments are now 3D tomosynthesis, the system’s usage is projected to grow YoY. However, one of the drawbacks of 3D tomosynthesis is the increased amount of time women spend at mammogram clinics. Image processing time from tomosynthesis are longer than the 2D counterpart due to the larger amount of data that needs to be processed. To counteract, companies need to heavily focus on patient concerns to improve the mammography experience, minimize discomfort, reduce unnecessary steps and protect patient privacy.
The overarching aim of these innovations is to reduce the number of patient recalls and increase patient throughput. Patient comfort innovations also aim to drive growth in developed and saturated markets, by increasing participation. This is increasing demand for new systems and is reducing the replacement cycle of old outdated installed systems.
IHS Markit will continue to follow trends in the mammography X-ray market as part of our coverage of the X-ray Intelligence service, including syndicated reports on mammography x-ray systems, general radiography and fluoroscopy x-ray systems, interventional x-ray systems, mobile and mini c-arms, dental x-ray and veterinary x-ray systems and the flat panel detector supply market. For more information, please contact Sharjeel Ahmad at [email protected].