SNOOKER ace Ali Carter has been diagnosed with a form of lung cancer.
Ali, 34, from Chelmsford, will now undergo an intensive course of chemotherapy.
Carter, a two-time World Snooker Championship runner-up, also suffers from Crohn's disease and last year recovered from testicular cancer to resume his career.
The world number 13 was beaten by eventual champion Mark Selby in the second round of this year's event.
Jason Ferguson, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman, said: "Ali is the toughest competitor I know and having spoken to him over the last few days I can assure everyone he has the fight to get through the battle ahead."
World champion Mark Selby said on Twitter: "Gutted to hear the news about Ali Carter. My thoughts go out to him and his family at this tough time."
Meanwhile, six-time World Championship runner-up Jimmy White added: "Absolutely gutted for Ali, praying for you mate."
Carter had been due to play today in Gloucester, in qualifying stages for the Wuxi Classic tournament, but has now pulled out.
Ali is a three-time ranking tournament winner. He won the 2009 Welsh Open, 2010 Shanghai Masters and 2013 German Masters.
He but lost to fellow Essex potter Ronnie O'Sullivan in each of his Crucible finals, in 2008 and 2012.