We developed a compact tactile imaging (TI) system to guide the clinician or the self-user for noninvasive detection of breast tumors. Our system measures the force distribution based on the difference in stiffness between a palpated object and an abnormality within. The average force resolution, force range, and the spatial resolution of the device are 0.02 N, 0-4 N, and 2.8 mm, respectively. To evaluate the performance of the proposed TI system, compression experiments were performed to measure the sensitivity and specificity of the system in detecting tumor-like inclusions embedded in tissue-like cylindrical silicon samples. Based on the experiments performed with 11 inclusions, having two different sizes and two different stiffnesses located at three different depths, our TI system showed an average sensitivity of 90.8 ± 8.1 percent and an average specificity of 89.8 ± 12.7 percent. Finally, manual palpation experiments were performed with 12 human subjects on the same silicon samples and the results were compared to that of the TI system. The performance of the TI system was significantly better than that of the human subjects in detecting deep inclusions while the human subjects performed slightly better in detecting shallow inclusions close to the contact surface.