The Breast Imaging market revenues declined by 15% in 2020

Publication Date: 21/10/2021

Cranfield, UK, October 21st, 2021 – The rising global incidence rates of breast cancer, coupled with the severe backlog of women requiring breast cancer screening appointments due to COVID-19, has reinforced the importance of women’s health and early detection of cancer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer has surpassed lung cancer as the most diagnosed cancer worldwide, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases and equating to 11.7% of all new cancers in 2020. Breast cancer also was responsible for just under 690,000 deaths globally in 2020. As a result of the countable rise of breast cancer incidence globally, there is heightened pressures for government screening programmes. However, screening programmes alone are not sufficient to help tackle breast cancer mortality rates. It is essential that the accuracy of breast cancer detection is improved, whilst false positives and missed lesions are also reduced. These factors are forecast to be at the forefront of advancement in breast imaging for both screening and diagnosis.

Global drivers of the breast imaging market include strengthened awareness on the benefits of breast cancer screening programmes and the need to improve the accuracy of breast cancer detection. This, alongside a patient-centric approach to screening and technological advancements to enhance patient comfort, are improvements being implemented to increase participation of screening programmes which in turn has driven the uptake of mammography X-ray equipment.

The world market for Breast Imaging equipment is forecast to reach almost $1.3 billion by 2024 with the breast imaging AI market is forecast to reach $205 million, according to a new report from Signify Research. However, the mammography and breast ultrasound market revenues declined by just under 15% and 18% respectively in 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 on the breast imaging market

COVID-19 has severely impacted all medical procedures and healthcare facilities since the pandemic was declared globally in March 2020. Breast screening was significantly affected, with a high number of women missing scheduled mammograms. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in April 2020, as the country was largely shutting down, 80% fewer screening mammograms were conducted compared to the average number of mammograms in April in the previous five years. With such a significant population of women missing screening appointments, there is a big concern that many more women will develop later stages of breast cancer in coming years as a result. However, to help deal with the patient backlog, significant investment will be needed in both medical staff and breast imaging equipment. With increased pressure of screening centres and hospitals to address the number of women requiring breast cancer screening, there is heightened interest in how AI can be used to help prioritise scans, by highlighting suspected cases or lesions. Cases which are most urgent can then be addressed as a higher priority within the radiologists’ workflow and accelerate patient care pathways or protocols for further diagnosis.

Key trends impacting the Breast Imaging market

  • Use of 2D vs 3D mammography in screening programmes

The United States is the only country which currently uses 3D mammography for screening, with all other countries only using this technology for diagnostic purposes. Western European countries are expected to be the next to adopt 3D mammography screening programmes, but this is not anticipated to happen until the next two to three years.

  • Changes in demographics of women being screened

Healthcare providers are considering changing breast cancer screening policies to include younger demographics to help reduce breast cancer related deaths and increase early detection. However, the possibility of overdiagnosis and false positives is still prevalent.

  • Personalised risk-based screening

The extensive number of factors which could contribute to the risk of breast cancer include genetics, family history, polygenic risk scores and high mammographic density. Personalised risk-based screening may also identify high-risk women for more intensive screening such as MRI follow-up after mammography; alternatively, low-risk women may be more suited to longer intervals between screening, which also reduces the risk of false positives through over-screening.

  • Use of multi-modality imaging for breast cancer screening

Movement towards risk-based screening is likely to encourage the use of multi-modality imaging. As women are segregated into groups, identified factors such as increased breast density are expected to facilitate supplemental screening which are not commonly practiced today.

Breast cancer screening programmes

There continues to be a significant discrepancy across the world with regards to screening programs. Countries with large populations, like China and India for example, do not have a formal, structured approach to screening. There are also large differences in participation even in regions where formal programs exist, such as in Western Europe. In Spain, Denmark and Finland there is around 80% participation, whereas participation rates in other countries like France, the DACH region and Portugal are all significantly below the 50% mark. The European Union is attempting to increase participation and move the adoption rates to 80% or above.


Mammograms will continue to play a fundamental role in the detection of breast cancers, but the occurrence of false positives often leads to benign lesions being operated on. With heightened pressures for breast cancer screening programmes to account for the rising female population qualifying for mammography screening, it is crucial that the number of false positives subsequently does not rise as a result. Advanced techniques in mammography screening such as artificial intelligence, tomosynthesis guided biopsy, contrast enhanced spectral mammography as well as a more personalised approach to breast cancer screening are initiatives which could help reduce the number of false negatives or positives and drive more accurate early detection of breast cancer.

Related Reports

Signify Research has assessed the breast imaging market in its latest report “Breast Imaging – World Market- 2021” which provides a regional and global outlook on the current and projected uptake of breast imaging devices. The report provides analysis of the product mix, regional variations, competitive landscape and vendor market shares.

About Signify Research

Signify Research is an independent supplier of market intelligence and consultancy to the global healthcare technology industry. Our major coverage areas are Healthcare IT, Medical Imaging and Digital Health. Our clients include technology vendors, healthcare providers and payers, management consultants and investors. Signify Research is headquartered in Cranfield, UK. To find out more:, T: +44 (0) 1234 436 150,

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