Computer-aided detection systems show potential for growth in mammography and beyond

London 23 November 2004Computer aided detection (CAD) systems, with their ability to increase breast cancer detection rates by almost 25 percent, have gradually established themselves as a must-have technology in the radiology department. Raising cancer awareness has become high priority in the medical community and CAD system developers are riding on the success of the various breast screening programmes implemented all over Europe, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan research analyst Srividya Badrinarayanan.


The United Kingdom is going a step further with plans to set up mobile screening programmes. This is expected to serve a larger and more diverse patient population and provide further impetus to the CAD systems market. The various screening programmes have exposed the benefits of CAD systems not only in terms of superior detection capabilities, but also in providing seamless integration with clinical work flow, sensitivity to changes in image acquisition and efficiency in highlighting and interpreting the cancer affected areas.

Currently, there are about 270 CAD systems installed all over Europe. According to Frost & Sullivan, revenues in this market reached USD 27 million in 2003 and are expected to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26,5 percent over the period 2003-2008. Mammography CAD contributes about 97 percent to the total European CAD market and while this includes analogue systems, the market is heavily dependent on the uptake of digital mammography machines.

With the introduction of digital mammography, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are directly incorporating CAD into the mammography systems and marketing them as a single unit. "As a CAD system costs less than a digital mammography one, end users find it more convenient and economical to purchase both as a single solution", stated Ms. Badrinarayanan. "Combine this with the introduction of reimbursements and mammography CAD is bound to be a huge success."

CAD developers are entering into mutually beneficial strategic alliances with the OEMs of digital mammography machines in a bid to block out competition. In partnership with the OEMs, CAD developers can introduce new products with better features and within shorter time frames. While adaptability to analogue as well as digital modes, ease of use, price, better quality and high detection rates are all key ingredients of a competitive offering, participants looking to gain access to the top slot need to be more innovative in their approach.

However, with market leaders accounting for almost 90 percent of the total market, this is going to be a challenging task. In the future, companies that offer multi-modality CAD systems extending to computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other diseases apart from cancer stand to gain tremendously. Archiving, combined mammography and ultrasound, risk prediction and dynamic MR breast imaging are the other important features that are expected to make a significant impact in the future.

For now, CAD developers need to pay close attention to the lung/CT CAD systems that are used to detect cancerous growth rather than for screening purposes as in mammography applications, and therefore offer opportunities to expand market reach. Virtual colonoscopy is also likely to emerge as a huge success given the growing number of colon cancer patients.

In the long run, efforts to enter new segments in the CAD market or provide value-added features are likely to prove fruitless unless manufacturers take the initiative to impart awareness and proper training to technicians and radiologists who actually use the equipment. "Extensive clinical studies and demonstrations that establish the advantages of CAD in mammography and other emerging fields need to be targeted at the end user in order to capture and retain market share", concluded Ms. Badrinarayanan.

If you are interested in an analysis overview providing an introduction into the "Strategic Analysis of the European Computer Aided Detection Systems Market", you can send an e-mail to Katja Feick, Corporate Communications at Frost & Sullivan with the following information: Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel. Number, E-mail. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be e-mailed to you.

Leslie Versweyveld

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