Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer worldwide, and especially in some areas of China is the fourth most common cause of death and is of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) histology in >90% of cases. Surgery alone was the mainstay of therapeutic intervention in the past, but high rates of local and systemic failure have prompted investigation into multidisciplinary management. In this review, we discuss the key issues raised by the recent availability of esophageal SCC treatment with the addition of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and chemoradiotherapy to the surgical management of resectable disease and discuss how clinical trials and meta-analysis inform current clinical practice. None of the randomized trials that compared neoadjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy with surgery alone in esophageal SCC has demonstrated an increase in overall survival in those patients treated with neoadjuvant radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy has been accepted recently for esophageal cancer because such a regimen offers great opportunity for margin negative resection, improved loco-regional control and increased survival. The majority of the available evidence currently reveals that only selected locally advanced esophageal SCC are more likely to benefit from the adjuvant therapy. The focus of future trials should be on identification of the optimum regimen and should aim to minimize treatment toxicities and effect on quality of life, as well as attempt to identify and select those patients most likely to benefit from specific treatment options.