August 31, 2012
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
437 Russell Senate Bldg.
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Leahy:
The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund thanks you for your leadership regarding the Camp Lejeune Historic Drinking Water Consolidated Document Repository. The contamination of drinking water at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, an unprecedented environmental disaster affecting the courageous men and women of our military, is of great concern to our organization.
We are especially concerned about the alarming number of breast cancer cases that have been documented in men who lived or worked at Camp Lejeune from the mid 1950’s until 1987. As you know, breast cancer is a rare occurrence among men, and is especially dangerous because men often do not recognize the symptoms or seek treatment in a timely manner. In addition, men with breast cancer often experience unique and significant physical, social and psychological issues. One study of over 160 men with breast cancer reported that almost 25% of the men were experiencing “traumatic stress,” with some having clinical levels of depression and anxiety as a result of their diagnosis and related treatment. Because breast cancer support groups and other resources typically target women, men may feel isolated and become reluctant to seek help.
The Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund is dedicated to helping children and adults reduce their risks of getting all types of cancer, and assists them in choosing the safest and most effective treatments. We use research-based information to encourage more effective programs, policies and medical treatments. We hope that the release of these documents will encourage better research investigating the link between exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) and other known contaminants in the Camp Lejeune drinking water, and an increased risk for male breast cancer as well as other diseases. It is likely that the exposures could cause other types of cancer as well, but those other cancers may not be as noticeable as male breast cancer, which is usually rare.
Again, thank you for your tireless efforts to shed light on this tragic problem, and to support increased access to vital information, health care and services for these veterans and their families. Please let us know if we can be helpful to you or your staff on this or other important health/environmental justice issues.
Diana Zuckerman, PhD
Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund