Life tables were computed from the Tumor Registry at the Medical University of South Carolina on 486 patients with histologically proven squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus. The 5-yr follow-up was available in only 394 patients, or 81% of the total sample. For purposes of comparison with published literature, the traditional crude 5-yr survival percentages in the life-table analyses figures are presented. The life-table calculation utilizes all follow-up information available, in that patients observed for less than 5 yr still may contribute to the estimate of the true 5-yr survival rate in contrast to the past when all patients lost to follow-up were presumed to have died. In this method, patients not observed for the full time of the study are assumed to have had the same risk of dying as patients followed to the end of the fifth year experienced in their fifth-year analyses. The group with the most favorable prognosis in this series was that receiving preoperative irradiation. This operation. They were given 4,500 rads of supervoltage X ray over a period of 3 weeks prior to operation. The differences in surgical or radiation techniques employed by various reporters make comparative data difficult, if not impossible, to evaluate. Supervoltage irradiation has proved itself in some hands equal to surgery. A randomized prospective study would seem appropriate to conclude the best means of managing epidermoid carcinoma of the esophagus.