San Diego’s Only Black Oncologist, Dr. Angelique Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., Fighting for Black Women

By, Michael Walsh

Susan G. Komen San Diego was honored to have Dr. Angelique E. Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., present at our 3rd Annual Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference on Saturday, January 26th, 2020.

Dr. Richardson is a board-certified medical oncologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer at UC San Diego Health. She uses chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapies to offer the best possible treatment options her patients.

Dr. Angelique Richardson is also San Diego’s only Black oncologist.

In San Diego, Black women are over 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women. They are more likely than White women to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (a more aggressive, harder to treat type of breast cancer). And they are more likely than White women to experience worse side effects to breast cancer treatment.

As a Black woman, combating these health disparities is paramount to Dr. Richardson.

“My research focuses on cancer health disparities and studying why survival rates for certain types of breast cancer differ among various groups of women,” said Dr. Richardson. “I’m happy to be here in San Diego because of the unique challenges in the Black community with breast cancer.”

In Susan G. Komen San Diego’s 2015 Community Profile Report of San Diego, 69% of Black or African American women surveyed reported that their perceived top barriers to receiving regular breast health care were not feeling respected their physician, not trusting physicians, and feeling unable to question physicians.

It’s important that Black women can go to a provider who can understand on a personal level their experiences, and that Black women have a choice of provider,” said Dr. Richardson. I want my patients and the Black community to not be afraid to speak up to their doctors.”

The lack of diversity of oncologists in San Diego has left far too many Black women not feeling heard. Or worse, not seeing a doctor at all.

Black women are greatly underrepresented in breast cancer treatment clinical trials as well, and the least referred for clinical trials. But they are the group who needs to participate most.

I always try to encourage Black women to participate in clinical trials,” said Dr. Richardson. “This is how we will find out if treatment will work for them or not, and hopefully expedite this process to save more lives sooner.”

More research is needed to determine the exact causes of this breast health disparity for Black women. However, Dr. Richardson is hopeful for the future. A promising new research focus for breast cancer treatment involves targeted therapies for genetic factors.

Some studies suggest survival disparity seen in Black women remains even when you adjust for socioeconomic status, access, age, and stage of cancer,” said Dr. Richardson. “Researchers are now looking for therapies to target genetic factors in order to reduce this disparity in survival outcomes.”

If you don’t know if your insurance is accepted by UC San Diego Health and you’d like to be seen by Dr. Richardson, please call (800) 926-8273.

To learn more about Susan G. Komen San Diego’s Health Equity Initiative, click here.