Camp Lejeune Water Contamination & Cancer

According to reports released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people living and working at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina while the water supply was contaminated were more likely to develop certain cancers. Because of recent legislation, Camp Lejeune water cancer victims may finally be able to seek compensation through lawsuits. Learn more about the cancers associated with Camp Lejeune water and what legal options you may have.

How Did Camp Lejeune Water Cause Cancer?

Underground storage tanks that held Camp Lejeune’s water were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) known to cause cancer. It is believed that two water supply wells were affected — Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point.

According to the federal government’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), military service members, civilian workers, and their family members who lived or worked on the base while the water was contaminated are at risk of developing cancer from the Camp Lejeune water.

What Chemicals Were in Camp Lejeune Water?

ATSDR determined that Camp Lejeune water contained carcinogenic toxic chemicals that may have included:

  • Benzene
  • Dichloroethylene (DCE)
  • Tetrachloroethylene — also known as perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Other contaminants

What Is the Time Frame for the Camp Lejeune Contamination?

According to ATSDR, the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated from the 1950s through the 1980s. Anyone who lived or worked on the base during this timeframe may have been exposed to the contaminated drinking water.

Since families lived on the base, including pregnant women, anyone born until the mid-1980s could be at risk for cancer and other health conditions caused by toxic exposure.

How Many People Are Affected by the Contamination at Camp Lejeune?

An estimated 1 million people are believed to have been exposed to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

Cancer from Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Multiple types of cancer have been linked to the tainted water at Camp Lejeune, including:

  • Adult leukemia
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Adult Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system that generally involve white blood cells.

Symptoms of leukemia may include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever or chills
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight loss

The signs and symptoms of leukemia are often not obvious and tend to be diagnosed through blood tests looking for other conditions.

Bladder Cancer

Bladder cancer usually begins in the cells that line the bladder, kidneys, and ureters.

Symptoms of bladder cancer often include:

  • Back pain
  • Blood in urine
  • Frequent or painful urination

When doctors diagnose bladder cancer early, it is often treatable. However, bladder cancer often comes back, even after treatment. Camp Lejeune water contamination victims diagnosed with bladder cancer may face a lifelong battle with the condition.

Kidney Cancer

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common adult form of kidney cancer. This cancer is often discovered in the early stages when it is still tiny.

Kidney cancer can be symptomless at first but may eventually lead to:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the back or side

Liver Cancer

Liver cancer begins in the cells of the liver, located in the upper right portion of the abdomen. The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma.

Symptoms of liver cancer may include:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • White, chalky stools

It is more likely that cancer from another part of the body will spread to the liver rather than beginning in the liver.

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell. Cancerous plasma cells gather in the bone marrow and force healthy blood cells out.

Multiple myeloma can be symptomless at first but may eventually cause:

  • Bone pain, especially in the chest or spine
  • Confusion or mental fogginess
  • Constipation
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Infections
  • Nausea
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs

There are many treatment options for people with multiple myeloma.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissue, which are part of the body’s immune system. With this form of cancer, white blood cells called lymphocytes can grow and form tumors throughout the body.

There are many types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, including:

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Cutaneous B-cell lymphoma
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia

Symptoms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma often include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Chest pain, coughing, or trouble breathing
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • Unexplained weight loss

Cancer in Children Born at Camp Lejeune

Children born at Camp Lejeune were also found to have higher rates of cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.

According to an NBC News investigative report, Marines have complained for years that Camp Lejeune’s water caused their children to suffer from cancer. Reports of children harmed are especially troublesome because the military didn’t warn families and children born on the base of their increased risk of Camp Lejeune water cancer.

Cancer treatment is most effective when caught early but can still be severe. If people knew they were at a higher risk of Camp Lejeune water cancer, they might have scanned for symptoms and pursued diagnosis and treatment earlier.

If you or a loved one is showing any signs and symptoms of the conditions discussed above, see your doctor without delay.

If you have had cancer or other health issues after working or living at Camp Lejeune, contact a lawyer connected to the Camp Lejeune Claims Center to pursue financial compensation.

Get Help for Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Health Issues

If you or a loved one lived or worked at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between 1953 and 1987, you may have been exposed to harmful chemicals. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 may qualify you to receive legal compensation.

Even if the exposure happened long ago, you can still pursue justice.

The Camp Lejeune Claims Center exists to help military veterans harmed by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune to get the financial compensation they deserve. We're ready to help you — at no out-of-pocket cost to you or your family.

6 References
  1. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2017, January). Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/pha/MarineCorpsBaseCampLejeune/CampLeJeune_Water_Factsheet_508.pdf

  2. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). (2014, January 16). Chemicals involved. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/sites/lejeune/chem_descriptions.html

  3. Bove, F., Ruckart, P., Maslia, M., & Larson, T. (2014, February 19). Evaluation of mortality among Marines and Navy personnel exposed to contaminated drinking water at USMC Base Camp Lejeune: A retrospective cohort study – environmental health. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-13-10

  4. National Research Council (US) Committee on Contaminated Drinking Water at Camp Lejeune. (2009). Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books

  5. NBC News. (2014, February 19). Camp Lejeune study finds Higher cancer death risk. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/camp-lejeune-study-finds-higher-cancer-death-risk-n33991

  6. US Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, March 07). Camp Lejeune water contamination health issues. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/camp-lejeune-water-contamination/

Start Filing Your Camp Lejeune Claim Today

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Did you or a loved one live or work at Camp Lejeune at least 30 days between 1953-1987? *