Labia minora: Part of the female external reproductive system, the labia minora are the two inner lips that surround the opening of the vagina (the birth canal) and the urethra (the exit tube for urine.)
Laparoscopy: A procedure in which the doctor inserts a small device through an incision in the abdomen. He or she then views the reproductive organs and pelvic cavity using the device. A sample of tissue may also be collected for testing.
Laparotomy: A procedure in which the doctor opens the abdomen to inspect the internal organs.
Laser surgery: The use of a narrow beam of light to remove or destroy cancer cells, or to cut tissues.
Leiomyomata (singular: leiomyoma): See uterine fibroids.
Leiomyomectomy: Surgical removal of uterine fibroids only, leaving the uterus intact.
Leiomyosarcoma: A type of sarcoma that develops in the uterine muscle wall.
Liposarcoma: Cancer that develops from fat cells ("lipo" means fat).
Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland (at the base of the brain). In men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone, which is necessary for sperm production. In women, LH causes the dominant follicle to release its egg from the ovary (ovulation).
Lymphadenectomy (lymph node dissection): The removal of lymph nodes.
Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures found throughout the body. Lymph nodes produce and store infection-fighting cells.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A test that produces high-quality images of the body's internal structures without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images.
Malignant: Cancerous, as in a malignant tumor.
Malignant melanomas: A cancer that develops in the pigment-producing cells that determine skin color.
Masturbation: Self-stimulation of the genitals to achieve sexual arousal and pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm (sexual climax).
Melanoma: Cancer of the cells that produce pigment in the skin.
Metastasis: Cancer cells that break from a tumor and spread to other parts of the body.
Menstruation: The periodic shedding of a woman's uterine lining.
Menopause: When a woman's ovaries stop producing hormones because the number of eggs (follicles) is limited. At this time, regular menstrual periods stop.