Dame Julie Walters reveals bowel cancer diagnosis

Dame Julie Walters has revealed that she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

The Mamma Mia! and Billy Elliot star's condition was discovered 18 months ago, after doctors found two primary tumours in her large intestine.

The 69-year-old told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show that, following chemotherapy, she had been given the all-clear.

Dame Julie also hinted that her next film, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel The Secret Garden, could be her last.

The veteran actress first visited a doctor with indigestion and "slight discomfort" but later returned with symptoms such as stomach pain, heartburn and vomiting.

She was referred to a gastric surgeon for a CT scan and later, while on the set of The Secret Garden, received a call asking her to go in.

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Dame Julie Walters
Julie Walters attending the Paddington 2 Premiere at BFI Southbank, London.
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy of Film awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Julie Walters pictured in the Classic FM studios in central London. She will be hosting a host a new radio series called Turning Points on the station, exploring the biggest moments in classical music history. The first show will air on Saturday 17 February at 9pm. Picture date: Monday, February 12th 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS Entertainment.
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London.
Julie Walters arrives for The British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate in London.
Dame Julie Walters after she made a dame by Queen Elizabeth II at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.
Dame Julie Walters from Billingshurst is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace
Julie Walters arriving at the Paddington 2 World Premiere, BFI Southbank, London. Picture credit should read: Doug Peters/Empics Entertainment
Julie Walters attending the Royal Television Society Programme Awards. Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Julie Walters attends the screening for new documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years, at the Picture House Central cinema in London.
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London.
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 14, 2016. See PA Story SHOWBIZ Baftas. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House, Bow Street, London. EMPICS Entertainment Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 14, 2016. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/ EMPICS Entertainment
Julie Walters during filming of the Graham Norton Show at The London Studios, south London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening.
Julie Walters arriving for the premiere of the Burberry festive film, hosted by chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey and Elton John at Burberry, Regent Street, London.
Julie Walters arrives at the BAFTA Downton Abbey Celebration at the Richmond Theatre - London
Julie Walters during filming of the Graham Norton Show at the London Studios, in central London.
Julie Walters attending the EE British Academy Film Awards 2015 held at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London UK.
Julie Walters attends the after show party for the EE British Academy Film Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in central London.
Julie Walters arrives at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2015, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden - London
Julie Walters attending the BAFTA Film Gala Dinner, in support of its 'Give Something Back' campaign at BAFTA in Piccadilly, London.
Julie Walters on stage during the 2015 National Television Awards at the O2 Arena, London.
Julie Walters, BAFTA fellow, ahead of her onstage Q&A to launch a new BAFTA strand 'A Life in TV' at BAFTA in London.
Julie Walters during filming of the Graham Norton Show at the London Studios, in central London.
Julie Walters attends the world premiere of Paddington at the Odeon, Leicester Square in central London.
Julie Walters attending the IWC Gala in honour of the British Film Institute at Battersea Evolution, London.
Actress Julie Walters tries out one of the mowers in the British Lawn Mower Racing Association 12 hour British Lawn mower endurance race near Billingshurst, Sussex.
Julie Walters with the Academy Fellowship Award, at the 2014 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London.
Julie Walters arriving at the 2014 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London.
Julie Walters with the Academy Fellowship Award, at the 2014 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London.
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Recalling the moment of her diagnosis, she said: "Shock. First of all, shock. And I thought 'Right'. Then you hold on to the positive which was that he said 'We can fix this'."

Dame Julie was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer, which indicates the cancer has spread into nearby lymph nodes, and is one level below the most serious categorisation.

Dame Julie also remembered the moment she told her husband, Grant Roffey, the news.

"I'll never forget his face – tears came into his eyes," she said.

Despite remaining upbeat, Dame Julie said she thought "Well, I may not come round from the anaesthetic" while awaiting surgery.

She said she had "30cm taken out of my colon" in hospital.

The Moet British Independent Film Awards - London
Dame Julie Walters and husband Grant Roffey (Laura Lean/PA)

Her recovery meant she had to be cut from some scenes in the forthcoming film The Secret Garden, where she stars alongside Colin Firth.

Dame Julie said she also missed the premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, with her agent telling people she had a ruptured hernia in order to keep the cancer diagnosis secret.

Genevieve Edwards, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: "We are very sorry to hear Dame Julie has been treated for bowel cancer.

"We are incredibly grateful to her for speaking so openly about her diagnosis.

"It's only by talking publicly about this disease and raising awareness that we can encourage more people to take action if they have concerns.

"Every year in the UK, nearly 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, making it the UK's fourth most common cancer killer.

"Being aware of the symptoms and visiting your GP if things don't feel right can help increase chances of an early diagnosis.

"If you or your loved one receive a free NHS bowel cancer screening test in the post, completing it could save your life."

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