Coronation Street star Sally Whittaker has been secretly battling breast cancer for the past six months, according to the News Of The World.

The paper reports that the 46-year-old was diagnosed with the disease just before filming a storyline in which her character Sally Webster also discovers she has breast cancer.

However she continued filming, in order for Coronation Street to raise awareness of the disease, before taking a six month break from the soap.

“It was a bombshell and horrendous for her,” a source told the paper. “She had just been told about the plans for her character and then she found out she had cancer for real a few days before filming.

“It was utterly horrific. But Sally knew she had to stay strong and vowed to beat it.

Sally first found out about the cancer after discovering a lump in her breast last autumn.

“At first she didn’t panic because she had one before which turned out to be nothing,” the source added.

“She hoped it would be the same this time. But she went for tests and got the news every woman dreads – that she had breast cancer.”

Coronation Street bosses scheduled filming of her scenes in a block following the news to enable her to take a six month break for treatment. Viewers were told that her character was recuperating outside Weatherfield. However she is now preparing to return to work.

“She has finally turned a corner,” the insider said. “She is feeling better and now all she wants to do is get back to Coronation Street.”

Sally is known in real life as a campaigner for breast cancer awareness. She is patron of charity The Genesis Project, and took part in their 10km charity walk which raised £75,000.

She has played Sally Webster in Coronation Street since 1986.