Jennifer Saunders has criticised cancer survivors who wear the disease "as a badge", because it is "a job you don't have to work for".

The comedian, 55, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 but kept her illness and treatment a secret until she was pictured at a party without her blonde wig.

The 'Absolutely Fabulous' star received the all-clear in 2010 but said she was attacked by some former sufferers for suggesting she was "free" from the disease after she revealed her regrown hair at a party.

"People were writing, 'How dare you say that! You're never free of cancer!'" she told The Times Magazine.

"And I thought, 'No, actually I am free of cancer now.'"

Asked if she believed some people keep wearing cancer like a badge, she responded: "For ever - and I'll give you why.

"Because it is the job you don't have to work for.

"You suddenly get so much attention, and if you're not used to that, I bet it can sway you a little bit.

"I'm used to it. My job gives me the attention I would otherwise crave.

"They must be so pissed off when their hair grows back. And you think, 'Oh, come on, cancer is so common now.'"

The comedian and mother of three, who received chemotherapy and radiotherapy after doctors found a number of malignant lumps, said she never worried she would die from the disease because "they told me I wasn't going to".

Saunders, from Richmond in west London, has previously made light of her illness and joked about her ''lovely pert new bosoms'' when she spoke out about it for the first time.

But her husband Ade Edmondson has described difficulties endured by those with cancer and said the ordeal should not be referred to as a ''battle''.

'It's not a great three-part TV drama full of moments, it's a long grind, like a slow car crash that will last five years and then, hopefully, we'll get out,'' he said.

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