Earlier this week, Signify Research published a Premium Insight article, focusing on alternative breast imaging strategies. Alan Stoddart, an associate editor with the company, introduced the topic by pointing out how screening programmes had led to a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality during the past two decades: over 30% in the USA and 26% in the UK. Despite these improvements, he commented that manufacturers of breast imaging systems had a vital role to play in bringing to market novel technologies that could benefit a greater proportion of women, particularly in the developing world.
Stoddart reported wide discrepancies in the number of radiologists in different countries: just one per 100,000 in India compared to 15 in France and 11 in the USA. This situation led UE LifeSciences to develop an inexpensive screening device based on piezoelectric sensors that has been deployed in rural areas of India. He also drew attention to thermography systems based on readily available infrared cameras, while acknowledging this screening approach suffers from both poor sensitivity and specificity.
“Other vendors are attempting to lower costs for providers in other ways,” Stoddart said. He continued, “One solution from CapeRay sees two breast imaging modalities built into one device. The Aceso [seen left] integrates full-field X-ray and automated breast ultrasound into one system. Its cost is reportedly lower than that of two separate systems, so providers can offer both modalities without having to purchase additional hardware. There are also other improvements, with the system acquiring both ultrasound and mammography images simultaneously, CapeRay says that workflow efficiencies are improved.”
“Furthermore, by relying on images from two distinct modalities, detection accuracy could potentially also be improved, particularly when it comes to diagnosing women who have dense breasts. This is crucial for a company that seeks to supplant other vendors and establish a presence in the world’s examination rooms. CapeRay has been awarded patents for its system, but it would be naïve to think that other vendors wouldn’t try to develop similar systems that offer similar benefits in slightly different ways, a challenge that CapeRay will no doubt have to face in the future.”
Stoddart concluded his article with a diagram in which he placed eight breast-screening technologies on a grid, plotting overall market impact versus relative maturity (seen right, © Signify Research). Having both high maturity and high impact are automated breast ultrasound (ABUS), machine learning and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). Companies, including CapeRay, should be aiming for the Holy Grail of breast screening – a single imaging system that incorporates all three of these technologies.