THE chief executive of a charity aiming to raise awareness of testicular cancer is calling on men to talk about their health “openly and candidly”.

The Advertiser is joining forces with Ritchie Marshall from Cardross, the founder of Cahonas, during Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout April, to encourage men to check themselves as part of their health routine.

Cahonas works to educate men in Scotland on the signs and symptoms of testicular cancer, and promotes earlier detection through regular self-checking.

But Ritchie, the charity’s chief executive, says there is still work to be done on eliminating the stigma around male anatomy.

He said: “We want to get testicular health on the agenda from an early age, and we want it to be talked about openly and candidly.

“Self-checking should become part of every male’s monthly routine.

READ MORE: Helensburgh school set to 'walk to Paris and back' over Easter for charity

“It’s a really simple message and a life-saving one, but unless people know what to do they won’t find the changes.

“You’re taught from an early age to look both ways when you cross the road. This should be an equally important message.”

Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men in the UK.

Men with undescended testes at birth, or who have a family history, like a father or brother who has had testicular cancer, are at an increased risk.

If detected in its early stages, testicular cancer is 98 per cent curable.

The most common signs are lumps, heaviness in the scrotum, build-up of fluid in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in the testicles or scrotum, or pain in the lower back.

READ MORE: Friends finish March 'mental health marathons' to raise over £1,000 for charity

Ritchie first became an activist for testicular cancer 20 years ago, when studying for a qualification in public relations and marketing.

He said: “There was a module on public speaking and I just happened to fall on the topic of testicular cancer.

“At that point, I was 24. I was shocked and surprised that this was something I had never been educated about and that I hadn’t been told how to check myself.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Ritchie MarshallRitchie Marshall

“Ever since then, I’ve become an advocate for raising awareness.

“I later worked for the CVS in West Dunbartonshire and it was during my time there that we decided to set up Cahonas.

“There were some great charities out there, but there was still a huge gap, and their messages weren’t reaching men in Scotland.”

In future, the charity hopes to get testicular cancer awareness on the school curriculum.

Ritchie added: “It’s something that’s been passed in England, but of course, it’s different up here.

READ MORE: All the latest Helensburgh and Lomond headlines

“It’s of the utmost importance that children are taught from an early age what to look out for.

“If we can get into a routine of instilling every 15-year-old with that knowledge each year then it will be something they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

“I think there is still a huge issue in this day and age. I don’t think it’s purely down to men being embarrassed, but as a society, there is still a big problem using certain terms.

“There is such a stigma around testicles as a whole.

“We had it around 20 years ago with breasts and breast cancer, but now we openly talk about it. We need to move forward and have that same openness around testicles.”

For more information and support, visit the Cahonas website at cahonasscotland.org.