Riverdance and Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley has been diagnosed with an “aggressive form of cancer”, it has been announced.
The 64-year-old retired dancer has undergone surgery and is in the care of doctors, his team said in a statement.
“Dear friends, we have something personal to share,” it said. “Michael Flatley has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He has undergone surgery and is in the care of an excellent team of doctors.
“No further comments will be made at this time. We ask only for your prayers and well wishes.”
Mr Flatley, who primarily lives in Monte Carlo, in recent days said he had spent an enjoyable Christmas at his home in Fermoy, Co Cork. He last year starred in and directed the film Blackbird.
The development comes almost 20 years after Mr Flatley was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face. He has previously said the scare made him determined to “live every moment”.
He described the 2003 malignant melanoma diagnosis as scary and said it had changed his outlook on wealth and possessions and had made his sense of discipline stronger after he recovered from the disease.
He told Russell Davies on BBC Radio 2: “If I was in a position to go for everything, that intensified.
“And the value of friends, the value of loved ones – all of a sudden, material things faded away into the past.
“My art and the people that I spend time with are the things that I love most now. [Cancer] certainly gave me tremendous focus.”
[ Michael Flatley expresses disappointment over Irish dancing scandal ]
Mr Flatley went on to become an ambassador for Breakthrough Cancer Research following his recovery.
“So many people who surround me have had cancer and so many people I know have died from it,” he said at the time.
“I was diagnosed with skin cancer myself and it was a very scary time. I sympathise with anybody who is lying on that bed and facing the uncertainty of the future. It can be a frightening place.
“It was a malignant melanoma that I was diagnosed with. It was around 2003 and it was purely by chance that it was noticed.”
He was on business in Las Vegas at the time when he did an interview with MTV. A brownness on his face was noticed by a viewer who brought it to the attention of his assistant, and he went for a test.
“The doctor took a sample of it there and then,” he said. “I was flying to Barbados the next day and he gave me a call and asked me to come and see him.
“I said I was leaving for the airport and would he mind if I called him when I got back? He said: ‘No, I need you to come in immediately.’ That was a little scary. I cancelled the flight and went straight in to see him.
“He said if I had let it go a few more weeks there was probably nothing he could have done for me.”