Colorectal cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancerous deaths. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the estimated annual number of deaths due to colon cancer is projected to nearly double from the current approximate 610,000 deaths to more than one million deaths by 2040, which highlights the importance of detecting this cancerous type at the early stages in order to arrange suitable treatments. Some of the main risk factors for colorectal cancer include diet, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, heavy alcohol use and advanced age.

The typical age to begin colorectal cancer screening is around 50 years, at which point patients undergo either routine colonoscopy or stool tests, or a combination of the two. Colonoscopy has historically been the predominant screening method in the US, while stool tests for occult blood via guaiac testing and faecal immunochemical testing have been preferred in Europe and Australia. In such cases, colonoscopy is occasionally performed as a confirmatory procedure following stool sample analyses. Therefore, the colonoscope market has traditionally been focused within the US over most other countries.

According to GlobalData’s Medical Intelligence Centre, the global colonoscopes market is forecast to exceed $4.4bn by 2030. The US currently makes up more than 16% of the global market. This growth is primarily driven by the increasing number of colonoscopies being performed, whether as the primary screening method or as a follow-up colonoscopy to a positive stool test sample. Other indications also contribute to the use of colonoscopes, including colorectal cancer surveillance, lower gastrointestinal bleeding, anaemia, abdominal pain, constipation, chronic diarrhoea, and the assessment, treatment and surveillance of inflammatory bowel disease.

Two types of colonoscopes make up the market, namely flexible video and non-video colonoscopes. Today, the former accounts for the vast majority of all new sales of colonoscopes, given their technological advantages and continuously improving visualisation capabilities. While the average selling prices of these devices have experienced gradual declines in recent years, their increasing volume of sales is driving aggressive market growth.

The colonoscopes market leaders are mostly top Japanese medical device manufacturers, including Olympus, Fujifilm and Hoya (Pentax). Another key player within this market is Karl Storz, which also manufactures various other endoscopes. GlobalData forecasts this market to continue to be dominated by these companies until at least the end of the decade. While the colonoscopes market is well established, research and development (R&D) for improved designs and safety features will continue. This is due to the challenging nature of controlling for infection caused by reusing colonoscopes between different patients.

Danish company Ambu has announced that it is aiming to launch the world’s first single-use colonoscope by the end of the year, which will have a profound impact on the overall colonoscopes market. By not only eliminating the risk of cross-contamination, but also potentially lowering the cost of each procedure by using single-use colonoscopes, more companies will likely focus on manufacturing their own single-use colonoscopes during this decade.