Depeche Mode star Dave Gahan has opened up about his frightening cancer battle and recalled how he told his wife he feared he was dying at the height of the health scare.

The singer fell ill in May, 2009 in the dressing room of a venue in Athens, Greece shortly before the band was due onstage, and he was taken to a hospital where medics revealed he had a bladder tumour.

Gahan underwent surgery to remove the growth followed by a course of chemotherapy before being given the all-clear, but the rocker has revealed he believed he was dying as he battled the illness.

He tells Q magazine, "At first they said it's a stomach virus. But this guy did ultrasound on me. He looked at the screen and said, 'I can see something'. He got another guy who said, 'Ok, you have a tumour on your bladder. I can operate tomorrow.'

"Being the old dope fiend I am, I start to negotiate: I'm on the road, an eight-month tour, we've got to do this later. My denial was amazing. So this oncologist knelt down beside my bed, looked up at me and said, This is a chance. It hasn't broken through the wall of your bladder. Do you know how many people get this chance when we see the cancer early like this?'"

A week after undergoing surgery, Gahan hit a low point and he recalls a heartbreaking chat with his wife Jennifer.

He says, "I looked into her eyes and said, 'I'm gonna be Ok,' and she said, 'But I'm not Ok! I'm not Ok with you thinking you can just go - go and die on me'. She knew that's what I meant: 'If this doesn't work out, I've had a good life, the kids are fine and...' She wanted me to shut up."

Gahan now has to undergo a regular cystoscopy - in which a camera is inserted into his urethra - to ensure he remains in good health, but adds, "It's very uncomfortable but I'm used to it. What can I say but I'm blessed."