Iced Earth have cancelled their summer festival dates and all headline shows so guitarist Jon Schaffer can undergo neck surgery.

Schaffer had surgery for the problem in 2000 but it has returned of late, with doctors recommending he go under the knife as soon as possible.

Iced Earth have just wrapped up a mammoth US tour with Sabaton and ReVamp and Schaffer was scheduled for surgery in September, after the planned summer dates. The surgery has now been brought forward on doctor's orders.

Schaffer says: “In February, while on tour in Europe, I underwent highly specialised treatment in Germany from a doctor who has helped, among many others,Tony Iommi and Eddie Van Halen.

"This treatment helped sustain my ability to perform so that we could complete our Worldwide Plagues Tour. However, I am now forced to take further, more invasive action sooner than I intended in order to maintain my overall health.

"As much as it pains me and everyone else in our camp to have to cancel these dates, this is something that cannot be put aside any longer.

"Once the surgery and recovery are completed, we will be back to work – healthy, strong, and ready to bring the metal to you, our fans."

Iced Earth released their 11th album Plagues Of Babylon in January.

Feature: Why metalheads love Star Wars