British theatre star Marti Webb endured a terrifying brush with death during a secret cancer scare.

The 69-year-old singer/actress, known for her glittering career in stage musicals such as Evita, Annie, and Cats, has spoken for the first time about a bout of ill health which nearly claimed her life eight years ago.

She was diagnosed with a large cancerous growth in her bowel and underwent surgery to have it removed. She kept the health scare a secret and was back on stage just two months after the operation.

Webb tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "This is the first time I've ever spoken about it to anyone... I was very ill. I didn't realise because I didn't have the normal symptoms. I was just very tired... I remember I was so grateful to wake up (after the surgery)... Every cancer is different and mine wasn't a very nice one. It had eaten through the wall of my bowel. But they managed to take it all away and save me. If it comes back, it'll be in my lungs or my liver...

"I had the operation in the September and in the November I did my first show in Cardiff (in Wales)... And I tap-danced."