Virginia Watson Dorsett, 68, of Bethesda, a retired medical editor and writer with the Defense Department and the American Red Cross, died of cancer Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

At one time she had served as a staff assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for health and medicine. She also had been on the Armed Forces Medical Policy Council staff.

Mrs. Dorsett had traveled extensively in the South Pacific and Far East while serving with the Army's Medical Information and Intelligence Agency.

She did research analysis in the fields of microbiology, immunology, clinical microscopy and hematology and wrote and edited reports in these fields.

In 1964, after retiring from service the government, which she had joined in 1952, she and her husband, the late Henry Grady Dorsett Jr., a physicist, operated a consulting service here for several years. Her husband died in 1974.

Mrs. Dorsett, a native of Milwaukee, was graduated from both Smith College and the University of Michigan.She also earned a master's degree from Ohio State University and was chief of hospital bacteriology and serology at the university's college of medicine from 1942 to 1949.

From 1944 to 1951, she also served with the Red Cross as an assistant program director in Europe, the South Pacific and Far East. She worked in biostatistics and the national blood program.

Mrs. Dorsett was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Writers Association and the Society of Technical Writers and Editors.

There are no immediate survivors.