This market is a large sector of the diagnostics industry, with more than 17 million physician office visits annually, during which mammograms were ordered or provided. In addition, the number of hospital outpatient department visits during which mammograms were ordered or provided total more than 2.2 million annually.
Mammographies are essential for detecting most breast cancers at an early stage through screening. Mamograms also help to reduce overall healthcare costs, as the cost of treating early-stage breast cancer is approximately $12,000 per patient, while a late-stage treatment costs nearly $150,000.
In a mammography, the breast is difficult to image; high resolution is required to detect potential tumors, but the extent of exposure to x-rays must be kept as low as possible to prevent possible side effects through regular screening. Moreover, digital mammography devices are able to use much lower doses of x-rays, which gives them an advantage over traditional film-based modalities. In addition, the use of computer-aided detection (CAD) software aids in pinpointing tissue densities that might be cancerous. Many digital x-ray product manufacturers have decided to focus their efforts on the mammography market.