Veterans Assistance

Forge Men - Mesothelioma Risks

Forge men, or those who work with iron or steel by heating it to extreme temperatures in order to make it pliable, are among the occupational groups that are most at risk for developing a disease related to asbestos exposure, such as mesothelioma.

Forge men work in a high-heat environment, which has necessitated the use of insulation and protective gear. Until the 1970s, that insulation and gear would have been made from asbestos, a fibrous mineral which is extremely resistant to heat and flame. Asbestos, which is lightweight, strong, flexible and durable, can be woven into fabrics. It can also be incorporated into building materials and industrial compounds.

Despite asbestos's usefulness, however, it can also be very dangerous. When the asbestos-containing materials become damaged, broken or decayed, the asbestos within can disintegrate and become airborne. Its microscopic fibers can be inhaled, and can embed themselves in the lungs and other organs and membranes within the body. When this occurs, mesothelioma can develop. This rare form of cancer targets a membrane known as the mesothelium, which covers the lungs and lines the inside of the chest cavity.

Although asbestos has been largely banned in the United State, it remains legal in small amounts and in certain circumstances. It also continues to be used in other countries, especially in developing nations.

Mesothelioma can be difficult for doctors to treat, in large part because it can take an extremely long time to develop. After the initial asbestos exposure to asbestos, years or even decades can pass before the cancer becomes symptomatic. By this time, it's often progressed to such a late stage that surgery is no longer an option, and the side effects of other traditional cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy might outweigh the benefits they would provide.

There are some other treatments available, including a technique called thoracentesis. This is a process by which a thin needle, attached to a catheter, is inserted into the chest cavity to remove excess pleural fluid. Thoracentesis can help ease the patient's pain and improve breathing. Additionally, many people have found relief from the symptoms of mesothelioma through alternative or holistic treatments, such as acupuncture, massage, aromatherapy and nutritional supplements.

Mesothelioma is also often misdiagnosed, since it has symptoms which are very similar to the symptoms of other, more common respiratory illnesses, such as emphysema or bronchitis. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, coughing, coughing up blood, chest pain, and wheezing.

The most common form of mesothelioma is malignant pleural mesothelioma, but the cancer can also strike other areas of the body, such as the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) and the stomach (peritoneal mesothelioma). There is, additionally, an extremely rare form of mesothelioma that targets the lining of the testicles, although fewer than one hundred cases of testicular mesothelioma have been diagnosed.

Forge men, or anyone who has worked in factories or other environments where high temperatures were present, and who may have been exposed to asbestos, should inform their physicians about this possible exposure, and understand the symptoms of mesothelioma.


Workers at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Below are a list of occupations and trades that were at risk for asbestos exposure:

Last Edited: Sun July 26, 2020