BackgroundThere is considerable evidence that platelets contribute to cancer growth and metastatic dissemination. In recent studies, altered mean platelet volume (MPV) has been associated with prognosis in different types of cancer. However, the prognostic role of the MPV in head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is currently discussed controversially. The present study was performed to analyze and further elucidate the prognostic significance of the MPV in HNSCC.MethodsA total of 319 oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (OPSCC) patients treated with radiotherapy at a tertiary academic center were enrolled in the present study. Kaplan–Meier method as well as uni- and multivariate Cox proportional hazards were used to evaluate the impact of MPV on cancer-specific survival (CSS), locoregional control (LC) and recurrence-free survival (RFS).ResultsThe median MPV was 10.30 fL (mean 10.26 ± 1.17fL). Univariate analyses showed a significant association of the MPV with CSS (HR 0.85, 95% CI 0.74–0.98, p = 0.025), LC (HR 0.86, 95% CI 0.74–0.99, p = 0.034) and RFS (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.76–0.996; p = 0.043). In multivariate analysis, the MPV remained an independent prognostic factor for CSS (HR 0.77, 95% CI 0.63–0.93, p = 0.008), LC (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.65–0.98, p = 0.030), and RFS (HR 0.83, 95% CI 0.685–0.999, p = 0.049).ConclusionsOur findings indicate that the MPV is a prognostic marker in OPSCC patients and may contribute to future individual risk assessment.