Prevention is the target of the campaigns informing the public about skin cancer. For the first time for Austria we report on the prevalence of self-reported knowledge and participation in screening for skin cancer. In two population-based representative cross-sectional studies, conducted in 1995 and 2005 attitudes towards cancer in the Austrian population were evaluated. In total, 966 men and 1081 women in 1995, and 951 men and 1021 women in 2005, aged 15-79 years were surveyed. Knowledge about early detection of skin cancer by screening decreased in men from 59.4% in 1995 to 53.9% in 2005 but increased from 57.5% to 64.1% in women. Screening itself increased in men from 8.1% to 13.3% and in women from 11.2% to 22.4%. More than 70% of the screens were performed by dermatologists. The effectiveness of screening for skin cancer in Austria seems to be proven by a reduction of tumour thickness at time of treatment and by the trends in mortality, where a levelling-off in males and even a slight reduction in females can be observed.