Actor Andy Whitfield has pulled out of the upcoming season of SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND after he was told by doctors his cancer has returned.
The star, who plays gladiator slave Spartacus, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year (10), resulting in a delay in production on the second series of the show, which is filmed in New Zealand.
He was given the all-clear in June (10) after months of treatment - but he's since been given the devastating news the disease is back.
Whitfield is set to undergo further aggressive treatment - and as a result he won't be returning to the TV series.
In a statement to People.com, Whitfield says, "It's with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey."
Executives at TV channel Starz have sent their best wishes to Whitfield following his health setback.
President and CEO Chris Albrecht says, "Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time. Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us."