TODAY

TODAY   |  July 03, 2013

Pierce Brosnan loses daughter to ovarian cancer

The actor’s daughter passed away Friday at the age of 41, succumbing to the same disease that killed her mother in 1991 at the age of 43, drawing attention to a cancer that can be difficult to beat. NBC’s Kat Snow reports.

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>>> than 20 years after losing his wife to ovarian cancer pierce brosnan is mourning the loss of his daughter to the same disease. it's shining a light again on a cancer that can be very difficult to beat. kate snow is here with more.

>> the awful thing about ovarian cancer is by the time you show symptoms it's often too late to stop the cancer from spreading but some women do know they're at risk ahead of time. the national cancer institute says 10 to 15% of ovarian cancers seem to run in the family and that unfortunately may be what happened in the brosnan family. a grieving pierce brosnan pushing forward and resuming work on his latest film days after the tragic death of his daughter charlotte. she was only 41 when she passed away in london on friday. three years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer . her brother posted these photos on facebook. in a statement pierce brosnan said charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, courage and dignity. our hearts are heavy.

>> he adopted her when he married her mother, actress cassandra harris . she also died from ovarian cancer at the age of 43.

>> for a man with so much looks, talent, fame and money, he has been dealt an awful hand . he had to lose two people he loved dearly to this disease.

>> this is my daughter charlotte.

>> he never spoke publicly about charlotte's cancer but made reference to his family's struggles during an appearance on today last april talking about his role in the movie love is all you need as a widower who falls in love with a woman who has cancer.

>> i lost a wife to cancer and i'm still dealing with it within my own family here. so i let myself do the project because i thought i could bring something to it.

>> not only did charlotte's mother have ovarian cancer , her grandmother died of it too. there's a good chance she inherited a predisposition for the disease.

>> it normally occurs in 60s and 70s. so when you have any woman having ovarian cancer in her 40s, that's a red flag for the possibility of a hereditary gene.

>> doctors can do testing to look for the gene linked to ovarian cancer and some patients make the difficult decision to remove their ovaries. earlier this year angelina jolie revealed she had the test and revealed she had the gene for best and ovarian cancer . charlotte's family never said if she underwent genetic testing . she is survived by a husband, a daughter and a son.

>> in his statement pierce brosnan said the family hopes a cure for the wretched disease is at hand soon. doctors hope it will prompt other people with a family history to speak that genetic testing . if people know, willie, then they're more prepared. they can make a personal decision about what to do.

>> hopefully this gets people thinking about the test. your heart goes out to pierce brosnan and her husband and the two little kids. thanks. coming