Lung cancer patients could receive more precise treatment, and their progress could be better tracked, using new non-invasive medical imaging analysis techniques, according to a study published by the journal PLOS ONE.

Based on a review of 48 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the study found that by scanning their tumour cells using "quantitative computed tomography based texture analysis" (QTA), researchers could determine − with nearly 90% accuracy − whether the patient’s tumour had a cancer-causing K-ras gene mutation, reports Science Daily.

The study was led by investigators at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Centre at Scottsdale Healthcare, and Cancer Treatment Centres of America (CTCA).

QTA was shown to be an accurate − and non-invasive − alternative to surgical biopsy and other invasive means of collecting and analysing biological samples. This method of making genomic distinctions may help physicians determine the best type of treatment to administer to each patient.

NSCLC represents more than 85% of all lung cancers, making it the leading cause of cancer-related death in the US. It has a five-year survival rate less than 10%.