Tomosynthesis market healthy and only getting stronger

Already the best-selling modality for breast imaging in the U.S., digital breast tomosynthesis is also the fastest growing.

“Tomo,” which combines tomography with digital radiography (DR) to render breast images in 3D, presently accounts for more than 50 percent of the breast-imaging market—and in 2016 will continue to enjoy market growth through both volume of individual-unit sales and average selling price.

So forecasts iData Research, which released the data by way of promoting a new report it has generated on the U.S. market for female and neonatal diagnostic devices.

The report cites as a major driver of tomo’s rise the recent approvals by FDA of tomo systems from three vendors—Hologic in 2011, GE in 2014 and Siemens in 2015.

At the same time, according to the report’s executive summary, demand for breast cancer screening has been steadily rising as the population ages and the incidence of cancer increases.

“Moreover, there has been a push toward newer and more expensive devices with increased detection capabilities, tissue versatility and lower radiation doses as well as increasing public awareness about the importance of screening,” iData reports.

The firm further states that the conversion of analog to digital imaging systems has topped 90 percent, but the number of digital units in demand appears to be plateauing.

This maturing of the DR market “dramatically decreases the market growth rate, despite sales in DR mammography being strong in comparison to analog mammography sales,” according to iData. “This downward trend in unit sales should continue despite the growing popularity” of tomo systems.

iData CEO Kamran Zamanian, PhD, points out that the average selling price of the technology is significantly higher, on average, than that of DR mammography systems.

“The drop in market value of DR systems is directly related to the recent [FDA] approvals for [tomosynthesis] systems by several of the large competitors in the market,” he said in prepared remarks, adding that these approvals have caused vendors to shift their marketing and sales focus, hastening the decline of DR unit sales.

The report notes the increasing use of ultrasound and MRI for women with dense breast tissue, albeit with insignificant market impact: “These modalities … are currently still seen as complementary technologies to standard mammography.”

Given the increased awareness among women’s health providers around reimbursement opportunities for tomo utilization, nobody should be surprised when additional vendors send new offerings into the tomo market, suggests iData.

The firm did not quantify the value of the overall breast imaging market or of the tomosynthesis market in its promotional materials or executive summary. An earlier report from Markets and Markets forecast the global breast imaging technologies market to reach approximately $3 billion by 2019.