Cancers Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Our lawyers are handling Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuits in all 50 states. This page is about Marines and their families who developed cancer as a result of exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.  Our attorneys discuss the likely jury awards and settlement amounts in these lawsuits.

Our Camp Lejeune lawyers can help you maximize the settlement amount you received for your claim.  Our contingency fee is 33%, not 40%.  You can contact us online to discuss your case or get a free consultation at 800-553-8082.

The Water at Camp Lejuene Caused Cancer

From the early 1950s to the late 1980s, the drinking water supply at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina was heavily contaminated with toxic, carcinogenic chemicals. After the contamination and its extent became public, the Department of Defense and other branches of the federal government performed extensive testing and conducted numerous scientific studies to determine what impact the contaminated water had on the long-term health of base residents and employees.

camp lejeune cancers

These studies have determined that individuals who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune may be at higher risk of developing certain types of cancer.

In this post, our attorneys look at the studies and evidence linking these cancers to Camp Lejeune and what you can expect as compensation if you bring a Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuit.


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Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Between 1953 and 1987, the U.S. Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune provided residents and employees with drinking water that was heavily contaminated with industrial chemicals. Specifically, the water supply at Camp Lejeune during this period contained trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). The PCE and TCE levels in the Lejeune water were thousands of times higher than the maximum safe limits set by the EPA. It was later disclosed that the water at Camp Lejeune was also contaminated with benzene.

It is estimated that over 1 million people lived and/or worked on the Camp Lejeune base during the 34-year period in which the water supply was believed to be contaminated. These individuals include former marines and their families who lived on the base in short- and long-term housing facilities. They also include civilian employees who worked at Lejeune.

The chemicals contaminating the water at Camp Lejeune (TCE, PCE, and benzene) are all known to be toxic to humans and animals. They are also known or suspected carcinogens and have been linked to higher cancer rates in animal testing.

ATSDR Study on Health Effects of Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a federal health agency that operates as part of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The ATSDR often functions as the investigation branch of the CDC and HHS, researching emerging health and environmental threats.

Following the discovery of the decades-long water contamination issue at the Camp Lejeune military base, the federal government came under intense pressure from veterans and various advocacy groups. In response, the ATSDR was tasked with conducting comprehensive research and testing to evaluate the potential health implications of the water contamination at Lejeune.

Over the last 2 decades, ATSDR has concluded several major retrospective studies to assess the impact that the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. Studies conducted by ATSDR involving Camp Lejeune have included 2 mortality studies on the military personnel and civilian employees at Camp Lejeune and a Cancer Incidence Study.

The mortality studies were conducted to evaluate whether exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune was linked to increased rates of death from specific cancers and other diseases. The study examined medical records and identified causes of death from over 4,600 civilian employees and 150,000 military personnel who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the contamination period.

Studies Link Water at Camp Lejeune to Several Types of Cancer

The ATSDR mortality studies into the health impact of the contaminated drinking water at Lejeune examined the death healthcare records from nearly 200,000 former employees and Marine personnel who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune during the period of contamination. The study collected data from these records to identify the causes of death for these individuals.

The study also examined similar cause of death data for a control group of about the same number of individuals who lived or worked at Camp Pendleton, a military base in California. Camp Pendleton was selected as the control group because the base residents had almost identical demographics compared to the Camp Lejeune population. In addition, the drinking water supply at Camp Pendleton was not contaminated during the relevant period when the drinking water was contaminated at Camp Lejeune.

The results of the agency for toxic substances study into the mortality impact of the contamination at Camp Lejeune were published in 2014 in the journal Environmental Health. The study revealed that individuals who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune had higher mortality rates for several different types of cancer. In the sections below, we will look briefly at the findings of the agency for toxic substances study at Camp Lejeune for each of these.

Tier I and Tier II Camp Lejeune Cancers

Cancers related to the water contamination at Camp Lejeune have been ranked into tiers based on the strength of the scientific causation evidence linking that particular cancer type to the Lejeune water. Tier I includes those cancer types with the strongest, most compelling level of scientific evidence supporting their connection to Camp Lejeune. Tier II includes those cancer types that can be linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination based on at least one epidemiological study, but the evidence is not as definitive as Tier I.

Tier I Tier II
Breast Cancer Aplastic Anemia
Kidney Cancer Cervical Cancer
Multiple Myeloma Prostate Cancer
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Colon Cancer
Liver Cancer Ovarian Cancer
Lung Cancer Brain Cancer
Bladder Cancer
Leukemia
Esophageal Cancer

Kidney Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Based on existing evidence, kidney cancer seems to have the strongest link to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune. The overall occurrence rate for kidney cancer among former residents and employees at Camp Lejeune was 2-3 times higher compared to the control group. For those study participants who had the most significant exposure to the TCE/PCE contaminants in the water (i.e., people who worked or lived at the base for the longest periods), however, the rate of kidney cancer death was 41 times higher compared to the control group.

The study concluded that exposure to the water at Camp Lejeune caused an increased risk of not only kidney cancer but other chronic kidney diseases. The study found that this finding was also supported by evidence from other studies. Around 80,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed each year, making it the 8th most common type of cancer.

The scientific evidence linking kidney cancer to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune is very strong. Based on the strength of this causation evidence, kidney cancer is considered one of the diseases that is presumptively linked to the Camp Lejeune water. Learn more about Camp Lejeune kidney cancer lawsuits.

Settlement Amounts for Camp Lejeune Kidney Cancer Cases

Based on the average awards in these cancer misdiagnosis cases, we believe that successful Camp Lejeune cases involving kidney cancer will have a settlement value of $150,000-$200,000. Kidney cancer is very treatable and has a very high 5-year survival rate which puts it at the lower end of the settlement payout scale.  If both kidneys are impacted, that is a different story and the settlement compensation payout is likely to be much higher.

Bladder Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

In addition to kidney cancer and disease, the ATSDR studies found strong evidence to indicate that the contaminated drinking water in Camp Lejeune was associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. The rate of death from bladder cancer among Camp Lejeune personnel and employees was almost three times higher compared to the control group.

The average annual number of new bladder cancer cases in the U.S. is around 82,000. This makes bladder cancer the 6th most common type of cancer in the U.S. The overall 5-year survival rate for bladder cancer is 77%.

The evidence connecting the Camp Lejeune water to bladder cancer is very strong. Camp Lejeune bladder cancer cases will be considered “Tier I” claims and will be more likely to settle.

Settlement  Amounts for Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer Cases

Camp Lejeune water contamination claims involving bladder cancer may have a slightly higher estimated settlement value of $170,000-$220,000. Bladder cancer and kidney cancer are comparable in terms of treatment options and survival rates. The main difference is you have two kidneys but only one bladder which reduces the chances of more favorable outcomes.

Prostate Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The ATSDR study found evidence to suggest that individuals with extensive exposure to the contaminated water at Lejeune were at increased risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer. The rate of prostate cancer among the Camp Lejeune study participants was significantly higher compared to the control group. Moreover, there was evidence showing a clear connection between the extent of exposure and reported cases of prostate cancer. Out of the 10 study participants who died from prostate cancer, 8 were classified as having “high” exposure levels.

Prostate cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the U.S. Each year, an average of 165,000 new prostate cancer cases are diagnosed across the country. The general 5-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 98%.

Prostate Cancer Cases May Have More Limited Settlement Payouts

Our firm is reviewing Camp Lejeune water contamination cases involving prostate cancer. But these are tougher claims.  Although the ATSDR study identified prostate cancer as one of the cancer types that appeared to have a connection to the contaminated water, many Camp Lejeune lawyers are turning these cases down.

The primary reason is that, notwithstanding the findings of the ATSDR mortality survey, most tort lawyers believe that the Camp Lejeune settlement amounts for prostate cancer might be low because prostate cancer is so common in this age group of men that were subjected to this toxic water. Prostate cancer is extremely common and has been linked to so many different environmental factors. So it is harder to prove that one single factor was a substantial contributing cause.

Leukemia Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

The ATSDR study of Camp Lejeune residents and employees found evidence indicating that exposure to the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune caused an increased risk of leukemia. There was also a clear relationship between the level of exposure and the incidence rate of leukemia deaths. 9 out of the 12 study participants who died from leukemia were categorized as having high levels of exposure to the contaminated water.

Leukemia (all types) accounts for an average of 60,000 new cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. This ranks leukemia as the 10th most common type of cancer. The 5-year survival rate for leukemia is 61%.

Settlement Amounts for Camp Lejeune Leukemia Cases

Successful Camp Lejeune water lawsuits in which victims or family members can show that they developed leukemia as a result of exposure to the Camp Lejeune drinking water will have a higher settlement value.

The average settlement payout for Cap Lejeune leukemia claims will probably be around $190,000-$260,000. Leukemia has a lower 5-year survival rate than bladder and kidney cancer, which is one factor in projecting a higher per-person settlement amount.

Breast Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Public health studies determined that individuals (women and men) who worked or lived at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water displayed increased rates of breast cancer. Studies outside of Camp Lejeune have also shown an association between breast cancer and occupational exposure to the types of industrial solvents (PCE and TCE) that were found in the Lejeune water supply.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., but it has a relatively high survivability rate. We anticipate that Camp Lejeune breast cancer lawsuits could see per-person settlement amounts between $150,000 and $300,000.

Settlement Amounts for Camp Lejeune Breast Cancer Cases

Our lawyers anticipate that successful Camp Lejeune breast cancer cases could see average Camp Lejeune settlement compensation payouts between $150,000 and $350,000. The settlement value for individual Lejeune breast cancer cases will vary depending on what stage the breast cancer diagnosis and the outcome was.  The plaintiff’s age and circumstances will also factor into the value of the case.

Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Public health studies have determined that Lejeune employees and residents displayed significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and other blood cancers compared to a control group. The studies concluded that there was is a clear link between the Lejeune water and NHL. NHL is considered a Tier I Camp Lejeune disease, meaning it has the strongest level of scientific causation evidence.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the 7th most common type of cancer in the U.S. About 80,000 new cases of NHL are diagnosed annually. The overall 5-year survival rate for this cancer is 84%.

Settlement Amounts for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Camp Lejeune Cases

Our attorneys estimate that successful Camp Lejeune cases based on NHL could have average settlement amounts in the range of $150,000 to 300,000. This estimated value is lower than other types of Camp Lejeune cancer cases, in part because the survivability rate for NHL is comparatively high.

Lung Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Scientific studies by public health agencies have found that Camp Lejeune residents and employees who were exposed to the contaminated water had a substantially higher risk of developing lung cancer and dying from lung cancer compared to a control group. The studies also showed that the increased risk of lung cancer was directly correlated to the extent of exposure to contaminated water.

Settlement Value for Camp Lejeune Lung Cancer Cases

Our lawyers estimate that Camp Lejeune lung cancer claims could have an average settlement value between $200,000 and $450,000. Certain lung cancer cases, such as those involving wrongful death, could have a much higher value. This valuation is at the higher end of the scale, mainly because lung cancer is a very dangerous type of cancer.

Results of Cancer Incidence Rate Study Still Pending

In addition to the mortality studies discussed above, the ATSDR is also conducting a Cancer Incidence Rate (CIR) study. The purpose of the CIR study is to quantify the extent to which exposure to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune caused higher rates of specific cancer. To some extent, the CIR study will overlap with the conclusions already made in the mortality studies. However, the CIR study will provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of exactly how much the Camp Lejeune water contamination increased the risk of developing certain cancers.

The CIR study was begun by ATSDR in 2018 and was expected to take 5 years to complete. To date, ATSDR has not published the results of the CIR study (if there are any yet).

New Law Allows Camp Lejeune Cancer Victims Right to Sue

In August 2022, a new federal law called the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (part of the Honoring Our Pact Act) was passed to give victims of Camp Lejeune water contamination the right to file a lawsuit against the government for their injuries.

About Settlement Value Estimates for Camp Lejeune Cancer Lawsuits

Our Camp Lejeune lawyers do not know what the average settlement payout will be for successful Camp Lejeune victims and their family members will be.  No Camp Lejeune cases have ever been settled.

Camp Lejuene Cancer Lawsuit Settlement Projections Caveats

What we do know, however, is what the average settlement value is for other tort cases involving the same types of cancer (e.g., kidney, bladder, prostate, leukemia, etc.). Based on these prior points of comparison, our lawyers can come up with a reasonable estimate as to the likely settlement value of Camp Lejeune cancer lawsuits.

Government Adds Another Lawyer of Complexity in Predicting Settlement Compensation

But these are lawsuits against the federal government.  There are so many variables in determining settlement amounts in any mass tort case.  Throwing the government in as a defendant makes it that much more complicated.  So take these Camp Lejeune lawsuit settlement payouts with dozens of grains of salt.  Still, I think lawyers owe it to victims to at least give them their opinion as to what average settlement compensation payouts could be… as long as everyone understands these are just projected settlement values and there are no guarantees one way or the other.

The Type of Cancer Will Impact Settlement Payouts

Almost all the prior settlements involving specific cancer types are from medical malpractice cases involving diagnostic errors. These are cases where the plaintiff is claiming that their doctor was negligent in failing to timely their cancer, thereby allowing the cancer to continue untreated and spread. Verdicts and reported settlements in these misdiagnosis cases will give us a good idea of how specific cancers are valued for purposes of personal injury compensation.

FAQs:

What cancers are linked to the Camp Lejeune water contamination?

Over a dozen different types of cancer have been linked to the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune including kidney, bladder, leukemia, lung, esophageal, and prostate. Studies have shown that exposure to the Lejeune water caused higher incidence and mortality rates from these cancers.

Contact Us About a Camp Lejeune Cancer Lawsuit

If you or a member of your family may have developed cancer from the Camp Lejeune water contamination, contact our office today to see if you can potentially bring a civil lawsuit and get financial compensation. Call us at 800-553-8083 or contact us online.

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