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:
- 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:
- Bladder cancer
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate 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.
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
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the back or side
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 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
- Excessive thirst
- Weakness or numbness in the legs
There are many treatment options for people with multiple myeloma.
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
- 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 birth defects and cancers such as 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.