Lung Cancer Screening Set to Reshape the CT Market, But Which Vendor Will Come Out on Top?
Published: May 15, 2023
Cranfield, UK, 15th May 2023
Lung Cancer Screening, CT, and the Road to Implementation
Despite declining tobacco use, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths globally, often evading detection until advanced stages. It is unsurprising, then, that interest in targeted lung screening (LCS) programmes has risen markedly in recent decades. Landmark clinical studies, including the NLST and NELSON trials, have done much to progress international discussions among leading health authorities, establishing lung screening’s potential to improve patient outcomes. A major development this year, however, was the EU’s official recommendation for lung screening programmes at national and regional levels across its 27 members. Now, many member states are entering the implementation phase of their respective programmes.
Computed Tomography (CT) is the dominant and recommended modality for lung cancer screening. Therefore, such developments will give rise to heightened demand for CT equipment over the next decade and beyond. Yet, fundamental questions about the scale, approach, and pace of LCS implementation must still be answered, all factors determining how CT vendors can capitalise on the growing market opportunity.
Delivering large-scale screening programmes can be time-consuming and often onerous. Few notable examples of national LCS programmes exist worldwide, beyond China, South Korea, and the US. In the US, the CDC estimates that only around 6% of the eligible population ever undergo the procedure. This underutilisation stems from several significant barriers to uptake, including poor reimbursement opportunities for private clinics, insurers’ restricting policy coverage to lower-cost imaging centres, and underinvestment in geographic reach. Although the market presence of mobile imaging centres is expanding, this change has been gradual. Whether European programmes will fare better in these respects remains to be seen. Still, more densely populated nations with substantial public funding have had a more successful track record of implementing other screening programmes, such as those for breast cancer.
Additionally, regardless of how competently designed and executed lung cancer screening programmes are, the speed of implementation so far indicates that the near-term market impact of new and revised LCS initiatives will be relatively modest. France, for instance, has scheduled its CASCADE pilot for 2024 at the earliest. As mentioned, participation in the US is still constrained by limited funding, and in the UK, the NHS has been running a pilot in parts of England since 2019, but no roadmap for the national rollout has yet been announced. Instead, LCS-driven CT demand will materialise mainly in the medium to long term, with the help of emerging clinical findings and international collaboration efforts, such as the SOLACE project in the EU.
Indeed, potential impediments extend beyond screening capacity itself. Emerging discussions around how and whether healthcare systems can manage significant increases in lung cancer cases overshadow the prevailing momentum. An installed base capable of LCS procedures does not negate ongoing crises such as high rates of radiologist burnout, shortages of trained staff, and surging energy costs. Ensuring that influxes of lung cancer patients do not exacerbate these problems could present a significant political obstacle in some countries.
Another challenge is the enduring stigma around lung cancer. Sometimes overlooked, this is the perception that incidences of lung cancer, relative to other cancers, are primarily caused by lifestyle choices rather than genetic predisposition. The reluctance to seek treatment continues to hinder early interventions. In this regard, new and existing screening programmes could benefit from framing check-ups as dedicated to general lung health (CT scans can identify several pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases). They may also promote complementary smoking cessation initiatives.
Market Trends to Watch
With the American Cancer Society forecasting 238,000 new lung cancer cases in the US alone this year, the proliferation of LCS promises to augment sales of CT equipment significantly over the next decade. Though, from a hardware perspective, at least, this shouldn’t prompt an overhaul of vendors’ product portfolios: almost the entire installed base is suitable for performing LCS scans. Aside from bolstering demand for workhorse solutions, the most notable hardware impact will be the rising influence of mobile CT, which remains niche in much of the global market. Therefore, product differentiation will be achieved principally through marketing and innovation of non-hardware features. Examples of this are already emerging. One such case, at ECR 2023, was Canon Medical’s new 160-slice system and the promotion of its ability to integrate into the LCS workflow with dedicated and standardised software protocols for lung scanning. This is despite the system being a far higher spec than clinically required.
Lung cancer AI is a market that will see more substantive change. Yet to reach maturity, lung cancer AI fits into the broader CT AI trend of workflow efficiency and image analysis, but its evolution could drastically affect LCS in years to come. For example, MIT’s Sybil is a deep-learning model that can detect signs of lung cancer at earlier stages than some doctors. While still pending FDA approval, preliminary results suggest it can identify if cancerous lesions will develop in a patient within a year, with 90% accuracy. The recently approved Aview LCS, developed by Coreline Soft, also supports image interpretation, substantially cutting read times and reducing incidences of false positives. Such advances will accelerate the adoption of LCS globally, particularly as strains on healthcare systems, including severe radiologist shortages, have been prohibitive in many cases.
Of course, OEMs may capitalise on the growing promise of lung cancer AI by securing value-enhancing partnerships and acquisitions. Identifying which third-party vendors offer the most credible AI products or, indeed, which offer the best expertise to assist the development of in-house software, will propel improvements in scan times, read times, and case prioritisation. The rewards from such strategic manoeuvring will thus prove critical in differentiating a vendor from its competition and could create an opportunity to demonstrate superior ROI. In addition, forming partnerships with healthcare charities and other bodies could be a big step towards consolidating brand presence in the lung-screening-workhorse space. With these factors considered, established market players will, on balance, gain the most from the evolving guidelines.
The Bottom Line
Major national and regional lung cancer screening programmes will be commonplace in Europe 10 years from now. Moreover, the take-off of European programmes marks a transformative shift for LCS, serving as a catalyst for technological innovation and the introduction of new programmes worldwide. In a sense, the question is no longer whether LCS will accelerate demand for CT equipment but how decisively vendors will take advantage of the coming tide. On this point, rising investment in cutting-edge AI solutions, decisive strategic plays, and LCS-orientated marketing will ultimately determine which vendors establish a commanding position in the space and which are left frustrated on the sidelines.
Written by Bhvita Jani and Matthew Watson
This is a Market Report on the global market for CT equipment, to be published in June 2023.
- Identify the products and end-markets driving growth
- Review the market drivers and barriers for growth
- Quantitative analysis of the market size and forecast growth
- Market share estimates presented by region, by product type
- Detailed product matrix for each of the leading vendors
- Analysis of which vendors won/lost market share in 2020
- Review of emerging new players and their likely market impact
- Analysis of equipment types (medical cone beam, below 17 slice, 17-63 slice, 64-127 slice, 128-160 slice, more than 160 slice)
- Analysis of the move to democratize imaging
- Analysis of the impact of AI for image acquisition and diagnosis
- Analysis and insights to support your strategy planning
- Product pricing strategies
- Analysis and insights to support your strategy and business planning
- Product pricing strategies
About Matthew Watson
Matthew joined Signify Research in 2022 as part of the Medical Imaging team. He holds a first-class MA Economics degree, graduating from from Heriot-Watt University in 2022 and previously completed an internship at Unilever.
About the Medical Imaging Team
Signify Research’s Medical Imaging team formulates expert market intelligence for some of the leading Ultrasound, CT, MRI, and X-ray vendors. Combining primary data collection and in-depth discussions with industry stakeholders, our thorough research approach yields credible quantitative and qualitative analysis, helping our customers make critical business decisions with confidence. Furthermore, our commitment to seeking a plurality of perspectives across the markets we cover guarantees that our insights remain independent and balanced. In May and June, the medical imaging team will be publishing its General Radiography and Fluoroscopy Equipment – World Market Analysis – 2023, Interventional & Surgical X-ray Equipment – World – 2023, AI in Medical Imaging World Market Analysis 2023, CT Equipment – World – 2023, and MRI Equipment – World – 2023 reports.
About Signify Research
Signify Research provides healthtech market intelligence powered by data that you can trust. We blend insights collected from in-depth interviews with technology vendors and healthcare professionals with sales data reported to us by leading vendors to provide a complete and balanced view of the market trends. Our coverage areas are Medical Imaging, Clinical Care, Digital Health, Diagnostic and Lifesciences and Healthcare IT.
Clients worldwide rely on direct access to our expert Analysts for their opinions on the latest market trends and developments. Our market analysis reports and subscriptions provide data-driven insights which business leaders use to guide strategic decisions. We also offer custom research services for clients who need information that can’t be obtained from our off-the-shelf research products or who require market intelligence tailored to their specific needs.
To find out more:
T: +44 (0) 1234 986111
CT EquipmentTo be published June 2023
This is a proposal for a new Market Report on the global market for CT equipment, to be published in June 2023.
Find out more