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SMT & Inspection | May 11, 2009

Shift from analog to digital Mammography Systems to boost the European Market

Analog screening systems are gradually being replaced by digital mammography systems. Screening programmes for breast cancer detection are responsible for driving the market. A majority of screening programmes have already been implemented in European countries.
However, in some others, implementation of these programmes is proceeding slowly but steadily, leading to the increased installation of mammography systems. In the diagnostic market, the more advantageous and efficient prone biopsy units are showing more potential for growth, because of their enhanced ability to provide biopsy guidance. Moreover, prone biopsy units offer a cost advantage over add-on upright systems.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan European Mammography Systems Market finds that the market earned revenues of $219.0 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $346.0 million in 2014. This research examines the following market segments: full-field digital mammography (FFDM), analog mammography systems, diagnostic mammography systems and computed radiography.

"The implementation of mobile screening units will generate more awareness in distant places", notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Smruti Munshi. "In Europe, the trend is that of the mammography system going to the patient and not the patient coming for a mammogram, creating potential for market expansion".

There is significant geographic diversity in Europe, particularly in certain areas of the Netherlands and Scandinavia. Remote places face the problem of low installation. Accordingly, the provision of mobile vehicles with screening facilities will create greater awareness. The installation of mammography systems at these sites has been an issue and conducting screening programmes at these distant locations will be a very important driver for the mammography market.

"With an increase in mobile solutions, mobile screening will penetrate rural communities and improve their access to screening", adds Smruti Munshi. "Telemammography will enable the transmission of digital mammograms from one location to another for expert consultation".

As it takes a long time for women to obtain their results after a mobile mammogram test is done, most vendors ensure the mobility of their units. Additional tests, if required, can be conducted immediately with mobile digital mammography. Mobile units are also being used in hospitals in emergency rooms and operation theatres. The implementation of widespread screening should lead to increased mobile unit sales in the future.

However, the delayed implementation of screening programmes and certain government policies are retarding the growth of digital mammography systems. Budgetary constraints, paralleled by socio-economic factors, are mainly responsible for these delays. This severely affects the prospects of the mammography market as it postpones the installation of mammography systems.

In addition, in certain countries, digital mammography systems are still not encouraged as government policies demand film reading. For instance, countries such as France still believe in film screening for breast cancer. This has led to a huge drop in the growth of digital screening in the public healthcare sector. This has affected, in turn, the overall mammography systems market in Europe.

"Pricing will be critical to recovering the high level of investment that is required to develop and manufacture biosimilars", states Smruti Munshi. "In addition, marketing strategies will have to be very different from generic drugs". As breast-screening programmes are very important to increase the installation of mammography systems market and promote market growth, major industry participants should lobby regional governments and the European Union Parliament to spread more awareness of this disease.

"Mammography vendors should lobby governments of individual countries, where screening is yet to be implemented", adds Smruti Munshi. "Germany has already experienced high sales because of many successful screening programmes that were implemented. For the overall market to expand, screening needs to be strongly encouraged across Europe". Reimbursements are also very vital for market expansion. Lobbying should aim at promoting the reimbursement of the treatment rather than the diagnostic tool. Joint efforts with various advocacy groups such as women's rights groups and cancer therapy groups will be vital for market advancement.

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