Globally, breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer and is among the leading causes of cancer death in women. Since the last decade, high prevalence of breast cancer has been observed worldwide and the morbidity rate is rapidly growing. The global female population with age more than 40 years and those on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are at a higher risk of breast cancer, and thus, aging of population is one of the major factors that has increased the incidence rate of breast cancer worldwide.
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It has been observed that the morbidity rate of breast cancer is higher in developed countries, whereas high mortality rate is noticed in less-developed nations with low financial resources. According to the International Prevention Research Institute (iPRI) in France, in high income countries, not many women are diagnosed with late stage (stage III or IV) breast cancer. However, in low income countries, majority of the women diagnosed with breast cancer were at the later stage of the disease. Thus, it has been realized by the governments of less-developed countries and international healthcare organizations that intensive efforts need to be taken in order to ensure that women in such countries receive early and better solutions for breast cancer diagnosis. Factors such as increase in population size, large pool of geriatric female population, longer life expectancy, increase in awareness, and introduction of early diagnosis programs by governments and healthcare societies are the major contributors to the improving rate of breast cancer diagnosis.
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Though various technologies such as, mammography, breast MRI, breast ultrasound, nuclear imaging and tomosynthesis are available in the market for breast cancer diagnosis, mammography is considered as a standard diagnostic tool. Mammography involves the use of low dose of X-rays to obtain two dimensional images of breast tissues. It has been reported that, each year, approximately 44 million women in the U.S. undergo mammography and out of those, 36% women are referred for a second diagnostic test. Many of such women are referred to ultrasound breast screening. Ultrasound is viewed as a promising method of cancer detection among women with dense breasts.
Breast MRI technique uses magnetic waves to capture breast tissue images, while ultrasound uses sound waves with a frequency higher than the human hearing range. Majority of the breast MRI tools use a contrast agent, gadolinium-DPTA. Today, MRI is used for the detection of a wide variety of breast conditions. Their specificity in tumor detection has led to MRI being one of the leading breast cancer detection tools. Nuclear imaging tools such as positron emission tomography (PET) is used for restaging and evaluation of recurrent breast cancer. A number of PET imaging tools are available in the market and their advanced variants are currently under development to determine their efficacy. Commonly used radioactive tracers in nuclear medicine-based breast imaging solutions includeTechnetium-99m (Tc-99m) sestamibi and Fludeoxyglucose (FDG).
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Geographically, North America dominates the global breast imaging market and is followed by Europe. Highly developed healthcare infrastructure and higher rate of awareness are the major factors that contribute to the growth of breast imaging market in these regions. Asia-Pacific is a lucrative market for breast imaging owing to increased incidence of breast cancer screening, mainly in countries like China and India. Contribution of Asian countries to the breast imaging market is expected to further increase as the medical tourism industry rapidly flourishes in this region.
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