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To evaluate the results of a prospective multicenter randomized study of adjuvant intraperitoneal 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) administered during 6 days shortly after resection of stages II and III colon cancers.Systemic adjuvant chemotherapy improves the survival of patients with stage III colon cancer receiving treatment for 6 months. Intraperitoneal chemotherapy theoretically combines peritoneal and hepatic effects.After resection, 267 patients were randomized into two groups. Patients in group 1 (n = 133) underwent resection followed by intraperitoneal administration of 5-FU (0.6 g/m2/day) for 6 days (day 4 to day 10). These patients also received intravenous 5-FU (1 g) during surgery. Patients in group 2 underwent resection alone (n = 134).In group 1, 103 patients received the total dose, 18 received a partial dose as a result of technical or tolerance problems, and 12 did not receive the chemotherapy. Rates of surgical death and complications were similar in both groups. Tolerance to treatment was excellent or fair in 97% of the patients and poor in 3%. After a median follow-up of 58 months, 5-year overall survival rates were 74% in group 1 and 69% in group 2; disease-free survival rates were 68% and 62%, respectively. Survival curves were superimposed until 3 years after treatment and began diverging thereafter. Among patients receiving the full treatment, the 5-year disease-free survival rate was improved in the treatment group in patients with stage II cancers but was unchanged in patients with stage III cancers.Chemotherapy with intraperitoneal 5-FU administered during a short period after surgery was well tolerated but was not sufficient to reduce the risk of death significantly. However, it reduced the risk of recurrence in stage II cancers. These results suggest that it should be associated with systemic chemotherapy to reduce both local and distant recurrences.