Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, 63, has been diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the immune system.

The legendary heavy metal rock band confirmed the devastating news to fans on their Facebook page.

The official statement read: "With the news that Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi has been diagnosed with the early stages of lymphoma, his bandmates would like everyone to send positive vibes to the guitarist at this time. Iommi is currently working with his doctors to establish the best treatment plan - the "IRON MAN" of Rock & Roll remains upbeat and determined to make a full and successful recovery."

The news comes as the original band members - Iommi, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward - prepare to release their first album together in 33 years.

According to reports, members of the group will now travel to the UK to continue writing and recording with Iommi.

It is not yet known if Iommi's condition will affect the band's planned European tour next summer, following their reunion last year.