Great White Shark
Eugene Finney believes the shark attack saved his lifeGetty

A man who was savaged by a shark said the attack saved his life after it was revealed he had a cancerous tumour. Eugene Finney was mauled by the shark during a family holiday on the California Coast.

The father-of-two was swimming on Huntington Beach when the predator struck, leaving him with a gash down his back. He told CBS Boston: "Something struck me from behind. I'd never been hit like that before. It was pretty jarring. It kind of gave me an instant whiplash."

He miraculously escaped the shark and emerged from the water covered in blood. "That's when my daughter said to me, Daddy, how come your back is all bloody?" he explained. "That night I started having pretty serious chest and back pains."

After he returned to his family home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, the pain continued and following a visit to hospital it was revealed he had suffered internal bruising in the attack. However, further examination also revealed he had cancer.

"They had discovered a growth, or a tumour, on my right kidney about the size of a walnut," Mr Finney said. "If this didn't happen with the shark, causing me to go in with this chest pain, I would have never known about this cancer."

According to Sky News, the surgeon who operated on him to remove the tumour, Dr Ingolf Tuerk, of St Elizabeth's Medical Centre, Brighton, said: "It led to a situation that saved his life. That's pretty fascinating when you think about it."

As a result of the shark attack doctors were able to detect the cancerous growth early and Mr Finney is not expected to need any follow-up treatment. He said: "I feel fortunate. I really feel like I've gotten a second chance at life and I'm not going to blow it."

The beach was later closed after two sharks were spotted in the water.