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On Wednesday, November 17th, Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens and senior editor Sam Baker hosted a virtual conversation highlighting innovations in care for cancer prevention and treatment, featuring Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and National Cancer Institute director Dr. Ned Sharpless.

Rep. Terri Sewell conveyed how the pandemic amplified the importance of early cancer detection, recent developments in the cancer detection space, and how issues of health equity extend to cancer prevention.

  • On the health disparities exposed by the pandemic: “The past two years have been like no other with this global threat and the COVID-19 pandemic, but COVID-19 has really laid bare a spotlight on systemic disinvestments in health care and health disparities in this country.”
  • On how screenings have improved cancer prevention: “I also know that when we put our minds to it, we can take the hardest of cancers and find screens and find therapies. I think about the fact that colon cancer used to be a kiss of death, and now we, because of screening, have brought the numbers of people who die from that cancer down. I’d like for that to be the case with pancreatic cancer…”

Dr. Ned Sharpless described the current state of cancer research and screenings after the pandemic, and the developments in science that have benefitted cancer patients over the last decade.

  • On the current state of cancer research: “It’s really a great time in cancer research in terms of the new ideas, new therapies all coming to benefit patients. But I think it’s also important to state we have a long way to go. We still have 600,000 Americans dying of cancer in the United States.”
  • On the pandemic’s impact on screenings: “We saw a dramatic decline in cancer screening of all types, for example mammography for breast cancer screening was down 95% at one point in early 2020...the rates of screening have largely recovered in the United States, but we believe we missed on the order of 10 million screening events during the pandemic.”

Axios VP of Growth Mia Vallo hosted a View from the Top segment with Prevent Cancer Foundation president & COO Jody Hoyos, who emphasized the importance of screenings for cancer prevention.

  • “There is no routine screening for the vast majority of cancers, and not enough people are using the cancer screenings we already have. So expanding the screenings available to people and increasing the uptake of existing screenings would be key in creating a world where no one dies of cancer.”

Thank you Prevent Cancer Foundation for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Watch: A conversation on pandemic-era innovations' impact on health care

On Dec. 8 at 12:30pm ET, Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens will unpack pandemic-era innovations and the impact on health care in 2022 and beyond, featuring Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Scripps Research President & CEO Dr. Pete Schultz. Register.

Biden warned Putin of specific "consequences" if Russia invades Ukraine

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."

Senate leaders sell members on debt limit deal

Sen. Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are urging their respective caucuses to back a deal that would clear a path to raising the debt ceiling.

Driving the news: The agreement, negotiated by the two leaders and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), involves Congress passing a law allowing a one-time rule change so the Senate can raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, rather than the 60 typically needed to overcome the filibuster.