Breast Cancer And Camp Lejeune

October 10, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
For over 30 years, toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) poisoned the groundwater on and around the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The toxic substances came from fuel depots, base junkyards, industrial waste, and a dry cleaning establishment. The most prominent of these contaminants were:
  • Benzene
  • Perchloroethylene (PCE)
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Vinyl chloride
Almost one million residents in the area were exposed to these dangerous chemicals daily—sometimes for years—by drinking, bathing, cooking, and playing in it. Although, at some point, the military became aware of the potential consequences, it was years before anyone told the families about their exposure to poisons that could cause any number of medical conditions.  One of these illnesses is breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Is Not Just a Women's Disease

breast cancer and camp lejeuneBreast cancer is, for the most part, considered a women's disease. Although rare, for every 100 female breast cancer diagnoses, one male develops this cancer—perhaps the best known male breast cancer survivor was actor Richard Roundtree. Although males have mammary glands, the male and female breasts develop differently. But both are vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals during embryonic development. Because breast cancer is a rarity in men, a spike in cases is easier to spot. The federal government acknowledges a definite connection between the drinking water contamination at Camp Lejeune and a breast cancer diagnosis for both males and females. In an interview with NBC news, the son of a Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune talked about his breast cancer diagnosis at age 39 (the average age of male breast cancer diagnosis is 70). After learning of the toxic contamination on the base, he told the reporters, “The entire time my mother was pregnant with me, we were drinking high levels of tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and benzene in our water.” Believing his cancer came from the exposure, he investigated further and found 83 men who lived or served at Camp Lejeune with a breast cancer diagnosis. At the time of this interview, the marine corp said there was no “reliable scientific evidence: to connect this cluster of male breast cancer to the water source. At that time, the late Dr. Richard Clapp was an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts and one of the nation's experts in cancer and the environment. He agreed with the young person living with cancer, stating, “I've been working on this kind of thing for 30 years. I have never heard of a community that's had the levels of contaminants that they had at Camp Lejeune.” The U.S. military may have known about the potential for rampant water supply contamination but failed to act.

The Injustice Suffered By Many at Camp Lejeune Has Widespread Consequences

The high levels of toxic chemicals found in Camp Lejeune's water supply have been linked to many forms of debilitating illnesses. Those who have breast cancer are not the only victims of the military's deception. The toxic drinking water at Camp Lejeune caused many painful and potentially fatal health conditions, such as:
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Central nervous system cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colon cancer/colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Miscarriage
  • Female infertility
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Renal toxicity/kidney disease
  • Kidney damage
  • Hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Scleroderma
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Immune disorders
  • Nerve damage
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS or pre-leukemia)
  • Neurobehavioral issues

Holding Those Responsible Accountable Is Possible

Anyone with breast cancer who lived, worked, or was conceived on the base (for at least 30 days) between August 1953 and December 1987 is eligible to file a compensation claim. Partnering with an experienced attorney will help applicants with their legal right to hold responsible parties accountable. This issue leaves hundreds of thousands of Americans with more questions than answers about their ability to file a claim for compensation arising from toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune. An experienced Camp Lejeune claims attorney can review your current health conditions, determine your potential eligibility for filing a claim, as well as assess current and expected future losses.

The Physical, Emotional, And Financial Costs of Breast Cancer

Today, breast cancer's survival and cure rates are better than ever, but the impact of the treatments continues to be life-altering. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments can leave breast cancer patients with:
  • Intractable fatigue
  • Changes to the hair and skin
  • Lymphedema (swelling of the arms, chest, and abdomen)
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Physical deformity
  • Decrease in libido
  • Infertility
  • Bone fractures
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Organ damage
  • Memory issues
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Nausea
  • The possibility of metastasis
Breast cancer is an emotionally charged illness for both men and women. The thought of losing a body part often leaves a patient suffering from anxiety and depression. Breast cancer wreaks havoc with self-esteem and body image. The financial fallout from breast cancer can last years after diagnosis and cause cumulative and progressive economic consequences for survivors and their families. The passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act empowers those affected by the contaminated water at Camp LeJeune to seek compensation for their illnesses which includes medical care, emotional distress, as well as any additional related costs and expenses.

How Much Is Pain And Suffering Worth In A Breast Cancer Claim?

The answer, as it pertains to a Camp Lejeune claim, is only an educated guess at this point in the claims filing process. Claims have been filed, but there is no established database from which to draw definitive dollar amounts. Some water contamination claims could individually exceed well beyond the million-dollar level. The diagnosis is devastating, and the treatments are costly, painful, and often disfiguring, and the claimant's stories are compelling. What will determine the settlement amounts for a Camp Lejeune breast cancer?
  • The details of exposure—in utero, in infancy, as a child, while pregnant
  • The length of exposure
  • How the exposure happened —drinking, eating, bathing, recreation
  • The duration and nature of the exposure
  • The stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis
  • The age the victim became aware of the condition
  • The prognosis for remission or recovery
  • The treatment plans followed
  • The details of the treatments
  • The age and circumstances of the claimant
  • The amount of provable financial losses suffered because of the toxic exposure
  • The severity of the condition
  • The types of treatment required
  • The claimant's response to treatment
  • The claimant's educational background and chosen profession
“I can still remember the horrible smell of the water. You couldn't drink it, it tasted so bad. On top of that, Mom wouldn't let us. She mostly boiled it and made tea from it, and the tea still tasted funny.”  ~ from an interview with a former resident (Mother Jones, May/June 2012 issue)

Wrongful Death Benefits for the Families of Camp Lejeune Victims

Unfortunately, due to the time that has passed, many victims of Camp Lejeune water exposure may have died decades ago. Qualified surviving family members can seek justice on their behalf. Among other things, family members may receive reimbursement for all past medical and funeral costs and funds to replace the income the deceased could have provided to a spouse and children over the years.

Who Is Eligible to File a Claim

Some of the people living with breast cancer allowed to seek compensation are:
  • Veterans who served at Camp Lejeune
  • Family members of those who lived at Camp Lejeune
  • Civilians who were employed on the base
  • Individuals conceived and born after their mothers were exposed
  • Family members of Camp Lejeune tainted water victims may file on behalf of those who did not live long enough to file on their own

The Stages and Treatment of Breast Cancer

There is both scientific and epidemiological evidence linking breast cancer to toxic exposures. Every claimant's case is different, and the intensity of the treatments and the duration of the recovery process is hinged on the type (or stage) of cancer, as well as the patient's individual treatment plan,
  • Stage 0 cancers are non-invasive—examples might include ductal carcinoma in situ or lobular carcinoma in situ.
  • Stage I cancers are usually small in size and may or may not have started to spread to the lymph nodes and beyond.
  • Stage II cancers are larger in size and have spread.
  • Stage III cancers are not only spreading into the lymph nodes but are invading nearby tissue.
  • Stage IV cancers have spread to other body parts.

How do doctors treat breast cancer?

Based on a patient's individual preferences, lifestyle, and stage of the disease, treatment options may include: Surgical options:
  • Radical mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast, underlying muscles, and lymph nodes.
  • Modified radical mastectomy: Removal of the entire breast and axillary lymph nodes—muscles are left intact.
  • Simple (or total) mastectomy: Removal of all of the breast tissue, nipple, and a portion of the overlying skin, lymph nodes—muscles are left intact.
  • Wide local excision: Removal of a portion of the breast tissue—lumpectomy.
Additional treatment options include chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy.

What Can a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyer Do

Filing a Camp Lejeune toxic water exposure claim is a complex process, with specific requirements and definite deadlines. Failure to follow the protocol can result in a reduced or denied claim. A personal injury lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the particulars of this unprecedented type of litigation will be a valuable asset to qualified claimants in their quest for financial compensation. Claimants should expect their legal counsel to:
  • Explain the details and mandates of the claims process.
  • Review the applicant's eligibility status.
  • Secure and review the required documentation (roof of service, proof of residence, proof of civilian employment, medical documents).
  • Determine a full and fair dollar amount of requested compensation based on the severity of the claimant's qualifying diagnosed condition.
  • Complete and file the administrative claim document.
  • Keep the claimant updated on the status of the claim.
  • Advise the applicant if an offered settlement appears to be sufficient.
  • Be willing and able to take the claim to trial.
  • Explain the benefits and pitfalls of initiating a claim if the applicant is a veteran currently receiving disability benefits.
  • Review the disability rating (for those currently receiving benefits) for accuracy regarding the scope of the illness.
  • Appeal any denied or reduced claims.

What Can I Include in a Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim?

Personal Injury Lawyer
Matt Dolman, Camp Lejeune Attorney
Camp Lejeune water contamination victims can ask for financial compensation for all economic and non-economic losses. A water contamination lawyer will calculate the total value.
  • The cost of past medical expenses from the time of diagnosis.
  • The cost of any out-of-pocket expenses related to the illness.
  • The projected cost of future medical care.
  • The projected cost of necessary expenses related to the illness.
  • Compensation for chronic pain.
  • Compensation for emotional distress.
  • The dollar amount of lost wages and benefits due to the illness.
  • The projected loss of future wages or employment opportunities.
  • Loss of consortium.
Almost forty years ago, the decision-makers at Camp Lejeune knowingly and willingly manipulated the destiny of nearly one million people. Contact a seasoned water contamination lawyer who's ready to help those harmed by their incredulous decision. New legislation makes it possible to seek financial justice and a sense of closure. Protect your legal rights today, and discuss this matter with a trusted personal injury attorney.


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 represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 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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