For cancer patients — and the doctors who treat them — the question often comes just after diagnosis: “How long have I got?”

While survival rates can’t guarantee how long a patient will live, they help patients and their families understand how effective treatment will be at a specific stage of cancer (Stage I to Stage IV).

Five-year survival rates show how many people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive five years after diagnosis. For example, a 50 percent survival rate tells you 50 out of 100 people survived past five years.

Here’s a look at some of the most common types of cancers and their survival rates, based on the latest research.

Breast cancer

5-year: close to 100 percent for patients in Stage 0 or Stage I; 93 percent by Stage II, then 72 percent at Stage III. Metastatic, or Stage IV breast cancers, have a five-year relative survival rate of about 22 percent.

Lung cancer

5-year: Ranges from 45 percent to 49 percent for Stage I; 30-31 percent for Stage II, then to 5 to 14 percent for Stage III. Metastatic, or Stage IV lung cancers, have a survival rate of about 1 percent.

Melanoma (skin cancer)

5-year: Ranges from 92 to 97 percent for Stage I; Stage II ranges from 70 percent to 81 percent; Stage III drops to 40 to 78 percent; Stage IV melanomas have a survival rate of about 15 to 20 percent.

Colorectal cancer 

5-year: For people with Stage I colon cancer, the 5-year survival rate is about 92 percent; it drops to 63 to 87 percent for Stage II and 53 to 89 percent for Stage III. Metastatic, or Stage IV colon cancers, have a 5-year relative survival rate of about 11 percent.

Source: American Cancer Society