I have been a neurosurgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering my entire career, since completing neurosurgical residency and spine fellowship in 1995. I specialize in the care of patients with primary and metastatic tumors of the spine and spinal cord.
I am the director of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Multidisciplinary Spine Tumor Center, which evaluates and treats over 1,500 spine tumors a year. Our goal is to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient that is most effective for improving neurologic function and mobility, stabilizing the spine, controlling tumor growth, and ultimately improving quality of life. Every member of our team specializes in spine tumors. This group of experts from different areas meets weekly to discuss individual patients’ cases and optimize the delivery of timely, coordinated care. These efforts have helped us develop treatment models that include advanced radiation techniques, surgery, and interventional procedures. These models have been adapted by many centers worldwide.
I operate on more than 150 spine and spinal cord tumors each year, but the majority of patients can be effectively treated non-invasively with stereotactic radiation therapy, an advanced type of external radiation therapy that delivers extremely precise, very intense doses of radiation to eliminate tumors. Additionally, many patients can benefit from proton beam therapy, which uses proton particles instead of x-rays to kill cancer cells and keep nearby tissue healthy. Sometimes radiation is combined with percutaneous kyphoplasty, a technique in which a radiologist inserts bone cement into a vertebra through a minimally invasive procedure in order to provide support and relieve pain.
For patients who require open surgery, we have made enormous strides in treatment. We’ve developed and refined tumor-specific surgeries, such as separation surgery, that are much less invasive and require shorter operating times than previously used techniques. Combining separation surgery with radiosurgery has revolutionized our ability to provide effective tumor control, reduce complications, shorten hospital stays, and return patients to systemic therapy quickly.
I am the author of more than 170 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and a lead author of the book Tumors of the Spine. I have delivered over 300 lectures across the United States and internationally. I am also on the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, Neurosurgery, and Annals of Surgical Oncology.
I often meet people at a really complicated time in the course of their illness and know that placing trust in a new physician is not easy. For those reasons, I consider it an absolute privilege to be a part of their care and work hard to make them feel cared for and safe.
Outside of work, I love spending time with my wife and daughter. We are all avid runners, although they are significantly more talented than I am. Over the past five years, I have also been involved in efforts to prevent sports-related concussions.
- Clinical Expertise: Metastatic and Primary Malignant Spine Tumors; Benign Spine Tumors (Schwannoma, Meningioma, Neurofibroma); Intramedullary Spinal Cord Tumors (Ependymoma, Astrocytoma); Brain Tumors
- Awards and Honors: Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Best Doctors (2005-2016); Castle Connolly: America’s Top Doctors (2005-2016); America’s Top Doctors for Cancer (2005-2015); Patient’s Choice Award (2011-2012, 2014); Compassionate Doctor Recognition (2011-2015); Super Doctors, New York Times Magazine (2008-2016); Orthopedics This Week: Top 28 spine surgeons in the US (2014); Willet F. Whitmore Award for Clinical Excellence, MSK (2014)
- Languages Spoken: English
- Education: MD, Emory University
- Residencies: The New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center
- Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; University of Louisville
- Board Certifications: Neurological Surgery
Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.
Clinical Trials Co-Investigated by Mark H. Bilsky
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