Bladder Cancer Diagnosis and Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

January 25, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer Lawsuit

For decades, Camp Lejeune has been the largest Marine training base in the United States and has been home to nearly a million service men and women. Between 1953 and 1987, it was the site of an ecological disaster that impacted those who lived and worked there. Marines stationed at the camp were being diagnosed with various cancers, including bladder cancer, along with other diseases and health problems. Their children were being born with deformities and childhood cancers in record numbers, and many died as a result of what was happening with the local water, unbeknownst to the general public.

Recent legislation known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act has created an opportunity for individuals who developed bladder cancer and other conditions from toxic substances in the water at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River. Former veterans and their family members who resided at Camp Lejeune or MCAS New River may seek damages for personal injury, medical benefits, and even compensation for the loss of loved ones.

For the first time in decades, our veterans' voices are being heard, and our Camp Lejeune attorneys are ready to advocate for these survivors and their families to bring the justice they deserve. If you have been diagnosed with bladder cancer after spending time at these military locations, we would be honored to handle your Camp Lejeune claim.

What happened at Camp Lejeune?

Camp Lejeune is located in North Carolina, and nearly a million Marines and sailors have lived and worked at the site for decades. Over the years, various cancers, diseases, and health problems became too common among camp residents. Often discounted by the VA hospital, these claims were often ignored or rejected.

Cases ranged from cancers resulting in people without a family history of cancer, birth defects, and childhood cancers in the family of service people living at the camp. Pressure from victims and their families, attention from the local press, and awareness about what was happening at the camp led to further investigation.

What Caused the Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Leaking containment tanks and dumping at nearby factories and waste disposal centers created toxin levels in the drinking water supply that were 400 times higher than acceptable safe levels. Each day those stationed at Camp Lejeune were drinking, cooking, and bathing in water contaminated with benzene, heavy metals such as mercury, and even fuel. Much of the toxic waste came from a dry cleaning disposal facility that had leached waste chemicals into the water supply.

Camp Lejeune Veterans Had Their VA Claims Denied

Due to North Carolina's ten-year statute of limitations, most of the affected peoples' rights to sue for damages had already expired by the time this information was made known. In the process, the VA denied or rejected thousands of claims for health concerns directly resulting from the pollutants in the drinking water supply. Veterans were routinely denied disability compensation for no apparent reason despite chronic exposure to contaminated drinking water.

VA claims were often evaluated by individuals who were not specialists in the diseases associated with the conditions caused by the contamination. Their lack of expertise resulted in a blind spot when it came to determining how serious the situation was. It is still debated whether or not this was done intentionally by the government to save money in providing healthcare or being liable for damages.

Bladder Cancer and Other Common Cancers and Diseases Associated With Camp Lejeune

Here is a list of just some of the diseases and cancers associated with the chemical spills near Camp Lejeune:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Adult leukemia
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Cervical and ovarian cancer
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breast cancer (especially noted in men)
  • Birth defects
  • Miscarriages
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Brain cancer
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's)

Bladder Cancer Basics

Bladder cancer is a relatively common cancer affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans.  However, it is also on the long list of potential diseases caused by toxins, heavy metals, and prolonged exposure to these chemicals at Camp Lejeune.

It begins with only a few cancerous cells and can quickly develop and spread throughout the urinary system, including the ureter tubes and kidneys. It is treatable if caught early but can become fatal as it progresses, metastasizing in other organs, bones, and blood. Advanced bladder cancer is cancer that has spread beyond the bladder to other parts of the body. The five-year survival rate for advanced bladder cancer is approximately 38%.

The levels of toxins in the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune were more than 400 times the levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. In turn, even those who are not genetically disposed to cancers, have a significantly increased likelihood of developing cancer after spending time at the site, according to scientific research. With so many cancers and health concerns reported at Camp Lejeune, investigations were launched to uncover the source. Bladder cancer is among the presumptive conditions listed by the VA.

Causes of Bladder Cancer

Since the bladder is an active part of a system designed to remove waste and toxins from the body, various forms of cancer can grow in it.

Here are some common factors in bladder cancer patients:

  • Smoking: This vice is the source of various cancers because of the tar and nicotine levels and the additives in cigarettes and tobacco that have been proven to be carcinogens. Smoking among military service people is common and, in the past, may have been a reason bladder cancer was ignored in VA claims for disability benefits.
  • Gender and age: Men are more susceptible to developing bladder cancer than women. Also, the older a person gets, the greater the risk of bladder cancer.
  • Cancer treatments: When the body processes chemotherapy, medications, and other cancer treatments, the harmful materials might cause cancer in different regions of the body where they collect, such as the bladder.
  • Chronic bladder infections: Continued damage to these cells due to infection or trauma can lead to cancerous cells and growth.
  • Genetic disposition: If you have a family history of cancer or just the genetic markers which make you susceptible to bladder cancer, you might develop this condition. An indication that other factors were involved at Camp Lejeune was noticed when those without genetic markers for certain cancers were diagnosed.
  • Environmental: The source of bladder cancer at Camp Lejeune was environmental, due primarily to toxins that had been dumped or leached into the drinking water supply from upriver. Heavy metals, benzene, and other carcinogens caused a higher-than-average rate of bladder cancer in camp residents over the years.

How is Bladder Cancer Diagnosed?

Symptoms most commonly identify bladder cancer. Blood in urine, pain, discomfort during urination, and frequent urination are just a few indications that something is not right. Back pain is also a symptom but is also shared with many other health concerns. A biopsy can determine which kind of bladder cancer it is.

Urothelial carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma affect different functions and tissues within the bladder. Usually, the type of cancer can help determine the cause; but due to the environmental causes in the water supply, any of these types are likely in Camp Lejeune residents.

How is Bladder Cancer Treated?

Bladder cancer can be treated in a variety of ways. Removal of cancerous tissue followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and follow-up care are common treatments. Removal of the bladder may also be an option. Treatments are often costly and painful, and a procedure such as removing the bladder may affect the patient's quality of life.

Medications such as chemotherapy can have side effects such as hair loss, weight loss, nausea, and reduced immune systems. Radiation also has various adverse effects, which can make a patient miserable for the duration of their treatments.

These methods are costly and can require a patient to lose a lot of time at work, which can further jeopardize their livelihood due to lost wages. Debilitating results from bladder removal or other treatments might result in long-term physical and mental stress and mental anguish. Successful treatment might only put cancer into remission but may require subsequent treatment and/or eventually cause death if the cancer worsens or metastasizes in other organs and tissues.

Bladder Cancer Linked to Camp Lejeune Water Contamination

Scientific and Medical Evidence

2014 morbidity study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) illustrated that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), benzene and vinyl chloride. The ATSDR (disease registry) study examined medical surveys filled out by 247,000 former Camp Lejeune residents and produced scientific and medical evidence that exposure to known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) such as PCE and TCE leads to a significantly increased risk of bladder cancer.

What is the Camp Lejeune Justice Act?

Because the statute of limitations against suing for damages had passed years before it was known that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was harming people, further legislation needed to be created to protect the rights of those affected.

A few laws brought limited protection, including increasing the source of compensation to $2 billion, including family members of service people stationed at the camp, and including only one of the nearly two dozen conditions associated with environmentally caused cancers.

The Camp Lejeune Justice Act was part of the PACT Act, which allocated 400 Billion dollars to these concerns and others that adversely affected service men and women. The act included health care benefits for veterans and their families and compensation for losses resulting from exposure to the drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Also included was the ability to seek compensation for wrongful death, lost and future wages, funeral expenses, and other damages commonly associated with personal injury cases. These benefits included the families living at the site.

Because the training camp had been active for so long, people affected were spread far and wide, and many had already faced difficulties in dealing with the VA and being turned away for years. The act required anyone who had lived at the camp for 30 days or more between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987, to be eligible. The list of diseases and conditions was increased to 23, up from just one in earlier years.

Anticipated Settlements for Camp Lejeune Bladder Cancer Claims

We believe the average settlement for a Camp Lejeune bladder cancer claim will exceed $250,000.00 based on the body of medical and scientific evidence available. This is based on the very strong causal link between exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune and subsequent bladder cancer diagnosis. Estimated settlement amounts are premature at this stage and are subject to significant change in the near future. Our estimations are based solely on experience with prior mass torts projects.

Why hire an attorney?

Many cancer sufferers had to choose between being able to afford the cost of living and paying for the medical treatment that would keep them alive. Over the years, many who suffered from these injuries died. Their dependents and those they left behind faced financial hardships, not to mention an emotional hole left in their lives that could never be filled.

At the time, many sought justice and waded through extensive bureaucratic red tape but were stonewalled by the government they had vowed to protect. Without the protection of the recent laws, their hands were tied, and most funds to pay for treatment or compensation for losses were nonexistent.

Here are a few of the best reasons to hire an attorney for your Camp Lejeune bladder cancer claim:

  • Financial compensation generally increases with legal representation.
  • The legal system is often confusing, with deadlines, technical forms to fill out, and other hoops to jump through.
  • An attorney can gather information to create a strong argument supporting your case.
  • From mediation to a jury trial before a judge, an attorney has experience in knowing how to argue your case with the information collected.
  • As you are putting your life back together, an attorney takes a lot of the stress off you.
  • Fighting the federal government for damages can be a daunting experience.

Contact a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Attorney at Dolman Law Group Today

Personal Injury Lawyer
Matt Dolman, Camp Lejeune Attorney

If you or a family member lived or worked at the Camp Lejeune United States Marine Corps training facility between 1953 and 1987, you may be eligible for damages and compensation for losses you suffered as a result of being exposed to contaminated water.

The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group will fight zealously to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries, losses, and other life-changing events that were no fault of your own.

We have successfully challenged big businesses, government institutions, private parties, and other entities that would otherwise be intimidating to inexperienced lawyers or people who try to handle their own cases.

When you work with an attorney at Dolman Law Group, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands. Call 833-552-7274 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation. Our attorneys can answer questions about your case and explain how the process works and how your case will be handled. Take the first step towards financial justice today.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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