BACKGROUND/AIMS: The aim of this study was to compare palliative treatments such as chemotherapy, chemoradiotherapy or radiotherapy with best supportive care in patients with inoperable advanced esophageal cancer. METHODS: A total of 67 patients with inoperable advanced esophageal cancer visiting Kosin University Gospel Hospital between January 2000 and July 2010 were included in a retrospective analysis. Patients were categorized as having palliative treatment or best supportive care to compare their prognosis. RESULTS: The median survival was 6.4 months in 67 patients. There was significant difference in median survival between the palliative and best supportive treatment (9.8 months vs. 4.5 months, p=0.01). The patients who underwent palliative treatment had superior 1-year and 3-year overall survival rate than those with best supportive treatment (27%, 10% vs. 5%, 5%, respectively). The 1-year and 3-year overall survival rate of palliative treatment was 18% (1-year overall survival rate) in chemotherapy, 33% (1-year overall survival rate) in radiotherapy, 45% and 9% in concurrent chemoradiotherapy, and 20% and 20% in sequential chemoradiotherapy, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: These results may suggest that palliative treatments are more effective than best supportive care. Further prospective studies are still needed to elucidate beneficial effect of palliative treatments on inoperable advanced esophageal cancer.