Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon and Board-Certified Dermatologist, Whitney Hovenic Discusses the Importance of Skin Cancer Awareness on KOLO News Now

At Skin Cancer & Dermatology Institute we are dedicated to raising awareness about skin cancer daily, not just with our patients but with our community. Our Medical Providers participate in local community events and organizations, including organizations such as the Nevada Cancer Coalition, to ensure that we spread awareness about America’s most common cancer. And during Skin Cancer Awareness Month Whitney Hovenic, M.D., joined Good Morning Reno Anchor, Rebecca Kitchen, to talk about skin cancer and the importance of sun safety.

“Every month more than 9,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer across the United States. And about 20% of Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their life,” stated Dr. Hovenic. Skin cancer is more prevalent than most people realize. According to a survey conducted in May 2019 by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Skin Cancer Foundation, “72% of Americans don’t understand that non-melanoma skin cancers such as CSCC [cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma] can spread and become life-threatening.” For this and many other reasons, Skin Cancer Awareness Month is extremely important. An important thing to note is that although skin cancer is America’s most common cancer, it is also the most preventable. 

One of the many reasons we love the Reno-Tahoe area is for its variety of world-class outdoor activities, which means we are outdoors a lot. This makes sun safety vital because any form of sun exposure can damage your skin. In fact, did you know that five or more sunburns doubles your risk for skin cancer? “We have the ability to protect our skin, but we have to remember to apply your sunscreen and to reapply your sunscreen. I think that’s what gets people. You put on your sunscreen in the morning, you go to Tahoe, you’re on the boat. You’re in and out of the water and by the end of the day you have a sunburn because you forgot to reapply,” adds Dr. Hovenic. Reiterating the importance of applying sunscreen daily as well as reapplying throughout the day, particularly if you will be in direct sunlight, sweating, or in the water.

Dr. Hovenic goes on to explain the common skin cancer types. With an estimated 3.6 million cases in the United States per year, basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. When diagnosed early they are usually not life-threatening. When looking for basal cell carcinoma, Dr. Hovenic says, “what you are looking for with a basal cell skin cancer is basically a sore that doesn’t heal…a key feature is that they tend to bleed very easily. So, with light pressure, if you’re washing your face and you notice ‘oh my gosh, this spot always bleeds and it’s always in the same spot,’ that’s something to bring to your dermatologist’s attention.”

Moving on to melanoma skin cancer, the deadliest form of skin cancer. “When people die from skin cancer, generally it’s from melanoma that has metastasized to other parts of their body,” explains Dr. Hovenic. She adds “with melanoma you’re going to be looking out for new or evolving brown lesions on your body, typically. They can be any color but if you notice something, the feature of this that is concerning is the irregular border. It’s no longer a circular lesion.” If you see any new lesions that are irregular or old lesions that are changing, it is something to bring up to your dermatologist sooner rather than later. In other words, if your next full skin examination isn’t for another six months, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

For this and other key points on skin cancer, watch Dr. Hovenic’s full interview online. If you’ve noticed any irregular lesions, our team of 21 Board-Certified Dermatologists and 14 Advanced Practitioners are here to help. Book an appointment today at one of our 10 locations in the greater Reno-Tahoe and Ruby Valley areas.


Whitney Hovenic, M.D., is a Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon and Board-Certified Dermatologist. After graduating from the University of Nevada School of Medicine, she completed her residency at the University of Missouri and went on to receive extensive training in lasers and Cosmetic Dermatology at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hovenic is one of only four Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeons in Northern Nevada. She specializes in Mohs Surgery and skin cancer treatments, though she has a special interest in Cosmetic Dermatology and the use of lasers for medical and cosmetic purposes.