Recently, in The Netherlands esophageal resections for cancer are banned from hospitals with an annual volume less than 10. In this study we evaluate the validity of this specific volume cut-off, based on a review of the literature and an analysis of the available data on esophagectomies in our country. In addition, we compare the expected benefits of volume-based referral to the results of a regional centralization process based on differences in outcome (outcome-based referral). J. Surg. Oncol. 2009;99:481–487. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.