PURPOSE: The best treatment for advanced esophageal cancer is chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery. In spite of the advance of multimodality therapy, most patients with esophageal cancer are treated with radiation therapy alone. This study reports the outcome of the use of conventional external beam radiotherapy alone for the treatment of esophageal cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between January 1998 and December 2005, 30 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus were treated with external beam radiotherapy using a total dose exceeding 40 Gy. Radiotherapy was delivered with a total dose of 44-60 Gy (median dose, 57.2 Gy) over 36~115 days (median time, 45 days). Thirteen patients (43.3%) had a history of disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, lye stricture, asthma, cerebral infarct, and cancers. Four patients metachronously had double primary cancers. The most common location of a tumor was the mid-thoracic portion of the esophagus (56.7%). Tumor lengths ranged from 2 cm to 11 cm, with a median length of 6 cm. For AJCC staging, stage III was the most common (63.3%). Five patients had metastases at diagnosis. RESULTS: The median overall survival was 8.3 months. The survival rates at 1-year and 2-years were 33.3% and 18.7%, respectively. The complete response rate 1~3 months after radiotherapy was 20% (6/30) and the partial response rate was 70% (21/30). Sixteen patients (53.3%) had an improved symptom of dysphagia. Significant prognostic factors were age, tumor length, stage, degree of dysphagia at the time of diagnosis and tumor response. Cox regression analysis revealed the aim of treatment, clinical tumor response and tumor length as independent prognostic factors for overall survival. Twenty-eight patients had local failure and another four patients had metastases. Three patients were detected with double primary cancers in this analysis. A complication of esophageal stricture was observed in three patients (10%), and radiation pneumonitis occurred in two patients (6.7%). CONCLUSION: The prognosis of esophageal cancer remains poor, in spite of advances in radiotherapy techniques. Radiotherapy is one of the main treatment modalities for the relief of dysphagia and treatment related complications are minimal. It is expected that the addition of chemotherapy or another systemic modality to radiotherapy will improve tumor control and increase the survival rate in advanced esophageal cancer.