Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is due to revive the breast cancer imaging market in the developed world, installations expected to increase four fold in the US by 2016, and double in the EU, according to new analysis by research and consulting firm GlobalData.

The new report states that the US is the biggest contributor in the global breast cancer imaging market, and US revenues dipped for new installations of full-field digital mammography equipment after 2009, when the US market began to show signs of saturation. However, the positive reception of DBT by the radiology community may help the market out of this slump. GlobalData predicts that DBT’s share in new breast imaging system installations in the US alone will grow from 10% in 2011 to a 75% share in 2018, leading the global breast cancer imaging market to grow from a value of $972m in 2011 to $1.7 billion by 2018.

DBT is a 3D imaging technique which uses a moving X-ray tube to capture various images to be reconstructed into a 3D structure of the breast. DBT is predicted to be the future gold standard technology in the breast cancer screening industry, due to its promising increase in cancer detection and reduction of false-positives, which represent key concerns with mammography.

Hologic was the first company to bring DBT to the US market, and is currently the only player with an FDA-approved DBT system. Competitors such as GE Healthcare and Siemens introduced DBT into non-US markets around 2008, but have not yet received FDA approval for their products, providing Hologic the opportunity to establish itself as the US market leader.

Some barriers still remain, however. DBT systems may be ruled out if clinics cannot afford them, and lack of reimbursement is also a challenge. In addition, DBT has a higher radiation dose exposure than mammography, but GlobalData expects that two-dimensional (2D) synthetic mammograms will provide a means of reducing the radiation dose when DBT is employed on its own.