March 24, 2007

Saved By a Spider Bite ; Victim’s Cancer is Discovered After He Goes to Hospital for Treatment

FEW would consider themselves lucky to be bitten by a spider. But David Durrant certainly does.

Doctors examining his painful bite wound discovered that he was suffering from a rare form of cancer.

Now, after months of treatment, he has been given a clean bill of health.

Mr Durrant told friends: 'My consultant said he knew I had been cursing the spider.

'But he said I should be thanking it because I had had cancer quite some time. Without the bite, the cancer might not have been found because I would not have gone to hospital.' The 48-year-old car park attendant was lying on the ground repairing his car outside his house in Maidstone, Kent, when he felt a nip between his left shoulder and his neck.

The area became swollen until it reached the size of a tennis ball, and he and his fiancee Julie Arnold, 30, could see two tiny red dots on his skin, 2mm apart.

He went to Maidstone Hospital, where staff confirmed that he had a spider bite and gave him antibiotics. The swelling, however, continued for two weeks and doctors decided to carry out an ultrasound test and biopsy.

It was then that they discovered that the lump was actually cancerous, and that Mr Durrant had Stage Two Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

By coincidence, the spider had bitten him exactly where his lymph nodes were located, and just as they had begun to be affected by the cancer. Cancer specialist Dr Mark Hill said: ' When Mr Durrant was referred to me a year ago, he said he had become aware of a lump after being bitten by a spider.

'He hadn't been aware of it prior to the incident with the spider. He had three months of chemotherapy and a follow-up course of radiotherapy.

'He is now in complete remission and we hope that will persist for five years so that we can call it a cure.' Dr Hill said that Mr Durrant would have been suffering from Hodgkin's Lymphoma for some time.

Stuart Hine, manager of the Insect Information Service at the Natural History Museum in Central London, said that it was very rare for spiders in Britain to bite.

'There are 12 species of spider which have been documented as biting people out of 640 species in Britain,' he said. 'These 12 tend to be our largest spiders.

' Within that group there are about six which fairly regularly are found to be biting people.

'It may be that, as Mr Durrant was working on the ground, a spider became trapped and it is in circumstances like this that they bite.

' It seems that he has been very lucky.'

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