Surgical resection is the current standard treatment for patients with early stage cancer of the esophagus. In a subset of these patients, comorbidities prohibit the operative risks of a potentially curative esophagectomy. Such patients may be candidates for local endoscopic treatment. We sought to look at a large cohort of patients with clinically localized esophagus cancer to determine whether high-risk patients survive significantly longer after endoscopic therapy than those who receive no local treatment. T0 or T1, N0 esophageal cancer (EC) patients who did not receive surgery or radiation were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registry (1998–2003). The patients were assigned into two groups: local endoscopic therapy (excisional biopsy, photodynamic, local destruction, thermal laser, polypectomy, electrocautery, or cryoablation) versus no endoscopic therapy. Differences in survival were calculated using the Kaplan–Meier method, and a multivariate Cox regression analysis adjusting for potential confounders was used to analyze the effect of local therapy on survival. The study cohort included 166 T0 or T1, N0 EC patients. (75% male; 50% >70 years old). Tumors were adenocarcinoma (60%), squamous cell carcinoma (24%), and other (16%). The 4-year disease-specific survival rate was 84% for patients receiving local therapy compared with 64% for patients receiving no therapy (P < 0.01). On multivariate analysis, patients receiving local therapy had a significantly lower hazard of EC-related death (P = 0.04). There was no difference in survival curves for deaths secondary to causes other than EC. Local endoscopic therapy significantly prolonged survival in high-risk patients with clinical T0 or T1, N0 EC and is a reasonable alternative for those patients who are not candidates for potentially curative esophagectomy.