(BlackDoctor.org) — Actor Louis Gossett Jr., best known for his Oscar-winning role as the tough drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” recently announced that he’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Pledging his dedication to help encourage others in the black community to be screened, Gossett said that there was a real need to raise a greater awareness of the disease, especially in African American communities.
Black men have the highest incidence rates for developing prostate cancer, though the exact reasons for this link is unclear. Currently, death rates from prostate cancer are 2.4 times higher in African Americans than in white men. Moreover, African American men tend to present with more advanced disease and have poorer overall prognoses than Caucasian or Asian men.
Gossett, 73, said his cancer was in its early stages and that his decision to go public was to encourage more African-Americans to realize the disparity of the disease in the black community, and the seriousness of not waiting until its too late to be examined and, if necessary, receive treatment. 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.
“I 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 said.
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.