Actor Pierce Brosnan's daughter Charlotte, 41, has passed away after a three-year struggle with ovarian cancer, Brosnan revealed in a statement to People magazine today.
"On June 28 at 2 p.m., my darling daughter Charlotte Emily passed on to eternal life, having succumbed to ovarian cancer," Brosnan, 60, wrote. "She was surrounded by her husband Alex, children Isabella and Lucas, and brothers Christopher and Sean."
"Charlotte fought her cancer with grace and humanity, 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 soon," the statement continues. "We thank everyone for their heartfelt condolences."
Charlotte's mother, Cassandra Harris (Brosnan's first wife; he adopted Charlotte and her brother Christopher after their father died in 1986) also died of ovarian cancer in 1991, as did Harris' mother before her.
Known as the "silent killer," ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer diagnosed overall and it's the fifth most deadly. While the survival rate is high if caught early, often there are no apparent symptoms or they're attributed to other medical conditions; subsequently, ovarian cancer often isn't diagnosed until it's at a very advanced stage. However, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and slash your risk.
1. Know the signs. There's no one definitive diagnostic screening, but if you experience abdominal pressure or bloating, bleeding, indigestion, diarrhea, pelvic pain, or fatigue that lasts more than two weeks, see your doctor and ask for a combination of the CA-125 blood test, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a pelvic exam to rule out cancer.
2. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Research suggests that kaempferol, an antioxidant found in kale, grapefruit, broccoli, and strawberries, may reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 40 percent.
3. Consider birth control. A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that women who take oral contraceptives have a 15 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have never taken the pill before. The benefit also seems to accumulate over time: The same study showed that women who took the pill for more than 10 years reduced their risk of ovarian cancer by almost 50 percent.
4. Understand your risk factors. Preventative measures are important, but your family history also plays a role. Angelina Jolie made headlines recently when she announced that she underwent a double mastectomy after learning that she had the BRCA1 gene mutation that increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Although the story is still developing, some outlets are speculating that because Charlotte Brosnan lost her mother and maternal grandmother to ovarian cancer, she may have had the BRCA1 gene mutation as well. While the mutation itself is rare, women who have two or more first-degree relatives diagnosed with ovarian cancer (particularly before the age of 50) have a significantly higher chance of developing the disease themselves.