Spartacus Actor Andy Whitfield Loses Cancer Battle

Sometimes, even a master gladiator in the prime of life, loses a battle.

Such is the case of actor Andy Whitfield, who has lost his battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 39.

As we reported in September 2010, Whitfield had to cancel filming his second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand when the lymphoma he was diagnosed with 3 months earlier returned with a vengeance.

In a statement released by the Associated Press, Whitfield’s wife Vashti said:

“On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer… He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”

What you should know about non-Hodgkin lymphomas

1.  Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas (NHL) are a group of cancers of the blood system, specifically of the infection fighting cells called white blood cells, or lymphocytes.

2.  Over 95% of those cases will be adults around 60 years of age.

3.  NHL is the fifth most common type of cancer (not including skin cancer) in the United States today.

4.  Symptoms include chills, swelling of the lymph nodes (which are often but not always painless), fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, lack of energy, and itching.

5.  This group is separate from patients with Hodgkins Lymphoma, who carry a special kind of cancer cell- called a Reed-Sternberg cell, in their blood.

6.  Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is becoming a disease on the leading edge of new research techniques that may be applied to other cancers.  These include: antibody treatments, vaccines, tumor profiling (like a fingerprint), and new therapies that are biologically targeted to unique abnormalities specific to certain lymphomas.

For more information about NHL, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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