There’s some very unfortunate news for Andy Whitfield, which also means bad news for Starz’s original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It appears Whitfield’s battle with cancer isn’t over, and this will affect his place on the series.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Starz issued a press release announcing that Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield will not be returning to the series because his cancer has returned. The actor, who already underwent treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma once before, was advised by his doctors to resume “aggressive treatment” for the cancer, which means he won’t be returning to Spartacus for Season 2.

"Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time," said Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. "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."

Indeed, this is very unfortunate news for Whitfield. We can only hope that he’ll be successful in beating it once again.

As for the fate of Spartacus, the series was tentatively set to return in September 2011 and Starz has yet to make any announcements stating otherwise, though it seems likely that a recast would be in order if they decided to move forward with the show. If not and they decide that one season and the prequel season Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (set to premiere on Starz in January 2011) are where they’ll end the story, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I’d love to see more of the series, however I think the first season ended with enough closure that it'd be ok if the prequel season was where the story ended for the series. Or maybe I'm just grasping at some shred of optimism here in the face of all of this bad news. It's hard to picture anyone else playing Spartacus and I don't really want to right now.

Regardless of the series’ fate, we’re sending positive thoughts Whitfield’s way that his cancer treatment is successful.

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