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Sex Glossary

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Carcinoma in situ: This is a condition that is considered a pre-cancer, because cancer cells are found on the surface of the organ or tissue. ("In situ" literally means "in its proper place.")

Cervix: The lowest part of the womb, or uterus, through which babies pass when they are born.

Cervical cancer: Cancer that occurs when abnormal cells in a woman's cervix -- the lowest part of the uterus (womb) through which babies pass when they are born -- divide and grow out of control.

Cervical biopsy: A procedure in which the doctor removes a small amount of tissue from the cervix to be examined more closely.

Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill cancer cells.

Chest X-ray: X-rays use high-energy radiation in low doses to create images of the body to help diagnose diseases and determine the extent of injuries. A chest X-ray is done to check that the heart and lungs are healthy.

Chlamydia: A germ that is primarily sexually transmitted and infects genital organs.

Chronic hepatitis: An ongoing infection of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis, a hardening of the liver that causes liver tissue to scar and stop working.

Circumcision: An operation in which the doctor removes the foreskin from the penis. The foreskin is the skin that covers the tip of the penis.

Clear cell adenocarcinoma: A special type of adenocarcinoma that occurs in women who were exposed to the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) while in the womb. (Many pregnant women from 1945 to 1970 were given DES to prevent miscarriage.)

Clinical trial: An organized research program conducted with patients to evaluate a new medical treatment, drug, or device.

Clitoris: The small structure at the front of the vulva. The clitoris is very sensitive to stimulation and helps a woman reach sexual climax.

Clitorectomy: The removal of the entire clitoris and the adjacent labia (the external and internal folds of skin, or lips, that protect the vaginal opening).

Colposcopy: An examination of the cervix (lower part of the uterus) and the wall of the vagina. It is performed using a special microscope (colposcope) that gives a magnified view of the tissue lining the cervix and vagina. A special solution may be applied to the cervix that causes abnormal cells to turn white or yellow so that they may be more easily viewed.

Computed axial tomography (CAT or CT scan): A technique in which multiple X-rays of the body are taken from different angles in a very short period of time. These images are collected by a computer and give a series of cross-sectional "slices" of the body.

Conception: The fertilization of an egg by a sperm.

Condom: A device usually made of latex (a type of rubber), plastic, or animal membrane that is used for birth control and to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Male condoms are fitted over the erect penis. Female condoms are inserted into the vagina. The closed end of the condom covers the cervix, and the open end covers the area around the opening of the vagina.

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