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Mammography Facility and Gantry Trends

Time for a quick update on statistics around mammography facilities and equipment in the US, thanks to the excellent US government statistics published each month[i]. In the chart below, you will notice that the overall number of facilities offering mammography services is basically flat, only having drifted from 8,749 to 8,718 facilities (-0.35%) in the period from January 2017 to October 2021.

[i] MQSA Statistics, accessed at: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/mqsa-insights/mqsa-national-statistics

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During the same period the number of facilities offering tomosynthesis has risen almost linearly, from 3,011 to 6,923 (+129%), meaning that 79.41% of mammography services are offering tomosynthesis. Although the data that the US government provides does not allow us to separate CR from FFDM, we can see that there are six film screen mammography systems still in clinical use in the US.

The difference in the blue section of the donut plots (below) is quite striking, and in only 39 months. Despite the cost of upgrading mammography equipment to digital breast tomosynthesis, it appears that (at least in the US) the transition will eventually be completed.

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The OECD does provide limited data on mammography equipment per 1,000,000 inhabitants[i]. Oddly, Greece appears to have the same proportion of equipment per head as the US, with Korea not far behind. Countries with organized screening, presumably those focused also on cost-effectiveness, have far fewer machines.

[i] https://data.oecd.org/healtheqt/mammography-machines.htm, accessed 2021-10-05.

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I only wish there were better sources of equipment type and usage around the world. Women are still dying of breast cancer, and it’s hard to find out exactly how much effort governments are putting into saving those lives.

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