SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Actor Pierce Brosnan has been hit with another family tragedy. His 41-year-old daughter Charlotte recently died of ovarian cancer. It's the same disease that killed her mother, Brosnan's first wife at about the same age more than 20 years ago.
Pierce Brosnan's first wife, actress Cassandra Harris, was just 43 years old when she died from ovarian cancer back in 1991. On Friday, their daughter Charlotte lost her battle at the age of 41.
Often referred to as the silent killer, Dr. Cheryl Saenz gynocological oncologist at UCSD, says 75 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are already in the advanced stages because the signs are often overlooked.
"Feeling full quickly after you eat, a sensation of abdominal bloating or cramping and also urinary urgency," Saenz said.
If those symptoms are new and last for more than two weeks in a month, Dr. Saenz says you should visit a doctor immediately. Statistics show when diagnosed in stage one, women have a 90 percent survival rate. If you're in stage three or four, that drops down to between 20 and 30 percent.
But, what if you want to stop the disease before it starts? That's where genetic testing comes in.
"We know that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of women with ovarian cancer are in fact carrying a gene with predisposes them to develop ovarian cancer, also breast cancer," Saenz said.
That gene is a mutation of BRCA-1 or BRCA-2, and can be detected by undergoing to same test Angelina Jolie had done, which prompted her to undergo a double mastectomy. It's a test that could have saved Pierce Brosnan's daughter.
Following her death, he released a statement, which read in part:
"Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humility, courage and dignity. Our hearts are heavy with the loss of our beautiful dear girl. We pray for her and that the cure for this wretched disease will be close at hand."
Saenz says the best candidates for that type of testing are any woman who has had pre-menopausal breast cancer or ovarian cancer at any age.