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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Louis Gossett Jr, best known for his Oscar-winning role as the tough drill instructor in "An Officer and a Gentleman", said on Tuesday he was fighting prostate cancer.
Gossett, 73, said his cancer was in its early stages and that he was going public to encourage African-Americans to seek early examinations and treatment for the disease.
The award-winning actor said he had begun an intensive treatment program so that he can resume his acting schedule, and work with his Eracism Foundation, as soon as possible.
"I count this diagnosis among the many challenges I have faced in my life and overcome. I expect this to be no different," Gossett said in a statement.
The actor's Eracism Foundation works to raise awareness of issues such as racism, ignorance and social apathy.
He said he wanted to go public "to set an example for the large number of African-American men who are victims of this disease because of the comparatively low emphasis in our community on preventive examinations and early treatment."
Gossett won a supporting actor Oscar for his role as Sgt. Emil Foley in the 1982 romantic drama "An Officer and A Gentleman" starring Richard Gere.
He has since appeared in more than 60 movies or TV shows, including the recent science fiction series "Stargate SG-1" and has three movies coming up including Tyler Perry's April comedy release "Why Did I Get Married Too."
Gossett's memoir "An Actor and A Gentleman" is due to be published in May and he is currently promoting a PBS documentary that he executive produced called "For Love Of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots" to be shown later in February.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte