Seventy-five patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus were evaluated over a 5-year period. Most of the patients had advanced-stage cancer when first seen. Only 50% were surgically explored, and 33% underwent resection. Operative mortality was 8%. Despite the immediate and durable palliation provided by surgical resection, survival rates were poor. Early diagnosis and aggressive surgical resection are the main hopes for improved long-term results.