Andy Whitfield

Starz's epic drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand halted production after star Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Whitfield, who plays Spartacus in the freshman series, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is scheduled to begin treatment immediately.

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"I'm receiving excellent care and am feeling strong, positive and determined with an army of support behind me," said Whitfield, whose cancer was detected in its early stages.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy," president and CEO of Starz Chris Albrecht said. "His health, of course, is our primary concern. He has our complete support during this difficult time."

The second season of Spartacus was scheduled to begin shooting in April in New Zealand.