NEW YORK (AP) — Starz network says "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" star Andy Whitfield is leaving the show to battle a recurrence of cancer.
Production of the "Spartacus" series' second season was postponed this spring when Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cable television network said Whitfield was responding well to treatment, but the cancer has returned.
The British-born Whitfield played the gladiator hero in the show's breakout first season.
The network said co-stars Lucy Lawless and John Hannah would take center stage for a six-episode prequel leading up to Spartacus' arrival. It will air beginning in January.
In a statement, Whitfield expressed regret at leaving the series while describing his cancer battle "as another extraordinary journey."